The annuity factor, or the cost to fund an annuity prize, is another key component. The annuity factor is made up of interest rates for securities purchased to fund prize payments. The higher the interest rates, the higher the advertised Grand Prize. You might not realize that an economic reality like interest rates impact even the Powerball jackpot, but they do!
Despite the uneasiness of many to begin with, I know of no disputes or complaints from people who have bought Powerball tickets online via the insurance model, won and not been paid. As you can imagine, this scenario would effectively close down their website as they rely solely on the trust factor. The insurance model means that you will not be buying “official” tickets, but what do you care if you get paid your millions at the end of the day!
The winner, who has not yet claimed the prize, has 365 days from the draw date to turn in the ticket at one of nine California Lottery District Office locations. The lucky person has two options for payment: A payment plan for about $543 million (before federal taxes) paid out over 29 years or a lump cash sum of $320.5 million (before federal taxes).
On October 13, 2009, the Mega Millions consortium and Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in American lottery jurisdictions, with the two groups referred to as the "Mega Power Lottery" by many users. The expansion occurred on January 31, 2010, as 23 Powerball members began selling Mega Millions tickets for their first drawing on February 2, 2010; likewise, 10 Mega Millions members began selling Powerball tickets for their first drawing the next day. Montana (joining Mega Millions on March 1, 2010) was the first jurisdiction to add either game after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska (March 20, 2010), Oregon (March 28, 2010), Arizona (April 18, 2010), Maine (May 9, 2010), Colorado and South Dakota (the latter two on May 16, 2010) also have joined Mega Millions since the expansion.
Unlike Hot Lotto, which used a random number generator during most of its run (including the December 2010 drawing whose jackpot was "won" by Eddie Tipton, a MUSL employee), Lotto America is drawn using physical ball machines and numbered balls. One machine draws the five main numbers while another is used to draw the "Star Ball". As of September 1, 2018, none of these drawings have been made available to the viewing public; these drawings are believed to be held in Tallahassee, Florida, even though Florida does not participate in the game.
The conditions for Florida joining Powerball included a move of the live drawings from Iowa to Universal Studios in Orlando. The three hosts rotating announcing duties from Universal Studios were Tracy Wiu, Elizabeth Hart and Scott Adams (MUSL headquarters remained in Iowa, where its other draws are held). The wheel that was used to determine the Power Play multiplier was retired when the drawings moved to Florida; a random number generator (RNG) was used until the 2012 format change.
Powerball® tickets print the white ball numbers in numerical order of a given play. You can match the white ball numbers in any order of a given play to win a prize. The red Powerball number of a given play on your ticket must match the red Powerball drawn. Each play on a ticket is separately determined; players cannot crisscross play lines on a ticket or combine numbers from other tickets.
Winning the jackpot requires matching all five numbers, plus the Powerball. Players who match five numbers win $1 million; players who match four numbers plus the Powerball win $50,000; players who match four numbers win $100; players who match three numbers plus the Powerball win $100; players who match three numbers win $7; players who match two numbers plus the Powerball win $7; players who match one number plus the Powerball win $4; and players who match only the Powerball win $4.
When a player wins the Lotto America jackpot, the winner may choose to receive the prize in annuity payments or may elect to take a lump-sum payment. A player has 60 days from the date they claim their prize to choose the "cash" option or the "annuity" option. If the player selects the "cash" option, the prize will be a single cash payment equal to the amount available to the lottery for the jackpot prize pool. The "cash" prize is estimated to be approximately one-half of the estimated jackpot, depending on current interest rates. If the player chooses an annuity, it will be paid in 30 payments over 29 years, and the annual payment will be increased by a rate as determined by lottery officials. If the cost to purchase the annuity is less than $250,000, the lottery may elect to pay the prize as "cash."
*a tip to know whether the website you are looking at actually buys lottery tickets online or follows the insurance model is to check the wording that they use. If you see the words “Play” then you can be confident it is a company that has agents and buys your tickets physically, if you see the words “Bet” you can be sure it is following the insurance model and you are placing a bet on the outcome of a lottery.