Robust ticket sales are expected in Oklahoma as the Powerball jackpot is set to reach $425 million, the largest ever for the game, the head of the Oklahoma Lottery said Monday.
“Sales have been up for the last week,” said Rollo Redburn, the lottery's executive director. “When those jackpots get up, everything improves.”
Redburn said he hopes many buying Powerball tickets for Wednesday night's drawing will consider playing some of the state lottery games; some of the Powerball ticket sales in Oklahoma and a share of all Oklahoma lottery games go to education in Oklahoma. Tickets may be bought at various retail outlets across the state, such as convenience stores, supermarkets and grocery stores.
If no jackpot-winning numbers are drawn Wednesday night, the jackpot will increase for the next drawing, which is Saturday night.
Publicity about the record Powerball jackpot attracts new and occasional lottery players, Redburn said.
“When you run a lottery, you've got your loyal players …. You've got others that play every couple of weeks, and you've got some that play every once in a while,” he said. “Then you've got people that have never played either because they just haven't gotten around to it, or they just don't like it.
“What you're kind of hoping is that when it gets up like this, the lapsed player … remembers and goes out and buys a couple tickets, and maybe they'll regain an interest. ... Maybe they'll become a player for us.”
Just as other Oklahoma lottery games, some of the proceeds from Powerball ticket sales in Oklahoma go to education.
Half the Powerball ticket sales in Oklahoma goes into the prize pool, and the other half goes to the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to pay for its expenses.
State law requires 35 percent of lottery earnings to go to public schools, higher education, the teachers retirement system and the school consolidation fund.
If the winning Powerball ticket is bought in Oklahoma, the state immediately would collect 4 percent of the money that is awarded in the form of income taxes, Redburn said. The federal government takes out 29 percent.
“They may have some other (tax) liability,” Redburn said. “We always make sure we tell them, ‘You need to get with an attorney, a tax accountant, and figure all this out because you may owe more.'
“Usually they take a little time to come in because they're trying to arrange for that kind of thing … someone to advise them,” he said.
“If they buy it here, they've got to cash it here, and we pull out taxes here,” Redburn said.
About the drawing
Oklahoma has had four jackpot winners since the state joined the Multi-State Lottery Association in January 2006 and began offering Powerball.
All four opted for the cash payout instead of choosing to have the jackpot paid out in annual amounts over 29 years, Redburn said.
Oklahoma winners have 180 days from the day of the drawing to claim prizes at the Oklahoma Lottery headquarters.
The cash payout for the $425 million jackpot would be about $278 million, he said.
The jackpot could go even higher because sales tend to increase in the days before record drawings; tickets have to be bought by 8:59 p.m. Wednesday to enter the drawing.
The jackpot is won by matching all five white balls in any order and the red Powerball. The second prize, won by matching five white balls in any order, is $1 million. Lower amounts are awarded as the number of matching balls decrease. The overall odds of winning a prize are about 1 in 32, according to the Powerball website.
Powerball lists the odds of winning the jackpot as 1 in 175,223,510. The chance of being struck by lightning on any given day is 1 in 750,000, according to the National Weather Service.
A Powerball ticket costs $2. The Power Play multiplier costs an additional $1 per play. Power Play winners win a larger cash prize other than the jackpot.
The previous top Powerball prize was $365 million, which was won in 2006 by ConAgra Foods Workers in Lincoln, Neb. The Powerball lottery is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.
The Megamillions lottery holds the record for the biggest payout in U.S. history. In March, the prize hit $640 million, and the winnings were shared among three ticket holders in Illinois, Maryland and Kansas.
The record Powerball jackpot could lead to an uptick in Oklahoma lottery ticket sales, which would improve the state Lottery Commission's outlook for the next fiscal year.
The Oklahoma Lottery Commission in September projected about a $17.2 million decline in revenues for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. That would mean about $6 million less going to education compared with this year.