EVERETT — $1.6 billion, baby!
The Powerball jackpot in Saturday’s drawing is a national lottery record.
For $2, it’s a chance to be part of history and ridiculously rich.
The cash value of the $1.6 billion prize is a lump sum payment of $782.4 million, before federal taxes. Or the full amount can be taken as an annuity over 30 years.
“It’s crazy busy with people coming in constantly buying tons of Powerball,” said Yee Lee, working the register Friday at Tom Thumb Grocery in Lake Stevens. “The highest one I sold was $100.”
Ticket sales will cut off abruptly at 6:45 p.m. our time for Saturday’s drawing.
The supersized jackpot is tantalizing nongamblers and novices who don’t know how to play and could tie up the lines filling out playslips, counting out quarters or asking questions before parting with $2.
“Plan ahead. We expect continued long lines at a lot of retailers up until the last moment,” said Dan Miller, Washington’s Lottery spokesperson.
“Standing in line by 6:45 doesn’t count. You have to have tickets in hand purchased. At 6:46, they will start selling tickets for the following drawing.”
If nobody wins on Saturday, the pot will roll over again for Monday’s drawing for about $2 billion.
“We went from $1.2 billion to now $1.6 so it’s quite possible,” Miller said.
It beat the prior record $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, shared by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee.
Here’s how the game works: Players or computers pick five numbers between 1 and 69 for the lottery’s white balls and one red Powerball number between 1 and 26.
The odds of matching all six numbers and winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. The odds of winning a smaller prize, starting at $4, are about 1 in 25.
So what do you do if all your numbers match?
First, verify the numbers at a lottery ticket scanner, app or official source.
“You want to make sure you got the numbers right,” Miller said.
Sign the back of the ticket. Lottery tickets are “bearer instruments” in that whoever holds the ticket is the owner, unless the ticket is signed. It makes that ticket officially yours.
Tickets $600 and less can be cashed at any lottery retailer. It doesn’t have to be same place where you bought it.
For prizes from $601 to $100,000, tickets are claimed by mail or at a lottery office, such as the one in Everett. Winners with tickets for $100,000 or more should call a lottery office to make an appointment.
Tickets of $100 million or more can only be redeemed at the main office in Olympia.
Lottery offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. That could make for a sleepless Sunday, but if you win $1.6 billion you’ll be too hyped anyway.
Washington’s Lottery won’t release your name without permission, but people can find out who won through a public records request.
Powerball tickets are sold in 45 states. More than half of all proceeds from sales remain in the jurisdiction where the ticket was sold.
Lottery officials advise to “Play responsibly.”
Ric Contreras bought a single Powerball ticket at Tom Thumb Grocery.
“If I don’t win it on one, I’m not supposed to win it,” he said.
And if he wins, then what?
“Not work and travel, travel, travel,” he said.
He also bought a Mega Millions ticket for a chance at mere $119 million.