Tuesday, April 24, 2018

# Powerball for rookies: how to play, and the benefit of winning in Florida

The Powerball jackpot has swelled to an estimated \$1.3 billion, which means you have a few more days to plot all the ways you could blow your winnings.

Granted, the chances you'll actually win big are about 1 in 292.2 million. But hey, who's counting?

If you're a first-time player, here is a basic rundown of how the game works.

Where to find tickets

Most convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores sell Powerball tickets, either through an automated machine or behind the counter. If you want to beat the crowd, purchase your tickets ahead of Wednesday, when the next drawing takes place. Tickets cost \$2, but you can pay only in cash. Most automated machines don't make change, so head to the ATM beforehand.

How to play

At 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time every Wednesday and Saturday, five white balls marked with numbers are drawn from a drum of 69 and one red ball, called the Powerball, is pulled from a drum of 26. When you purchase a Powerball ticket, you have five corresponding white numbers and one red number. To win the jackpot, your ticket must match all five white numbers, in any order, and the Powerball number. By matching just the five white numbers, you can also win \$1 million, available only in a lump sum.

What's this Power Play option?

Power Play is an added feature that costs an extra \$1 and allows a winner to increase the original winnings, though the jackpot is excluded. If you're one of the \$1 million winners but you purchased the Power Play, your winnings would double. For lower prizes, the increase just depends on the night.

So you won the big bucks — now what?

A winner has the option of receiving the \$1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or taking one \$806 million cash payment. The latter choice means 39.6 percent of the winnings would go straight to federal income taxes. In most places, a state tax also would dip into the lump sum, but not in Florida. Cheers to that.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Katie Mettler at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.

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