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How Late Can You Buy Powerball Tickets?

Guys, I like you too much to lie to you, so I have to give it to you straight: The odds that you’ll win the Powerball jackpot tonight are not that great. To be more specific, your chances of winning the $1.5 billion jackpot are one in 292,201,338. For a little context here, your odds of becoming president in your lifetime are one in 10 million. Am I trying to say that becoming the leader of the free world and/or becoming ludicrously wealthy via games of chance are not worthwhile pursuits? No way — I’m just saying that we should all be informed of the odds before we embark on any endeavor, be it purchasing lottery tickets or mounting a sudden and very surprising presidential campaign.

UPDATE: This post was originally published in January 2016. As of Aug. 23, 2017, the new Powerball jackpot has hit $700 million (and if there are no winners, it’ll go to $1 billion). Just like always, the Powerball will be drawn at 10:59 p.m. EST. While ticket cutoffs vary state by state, assume that you need to have your ticket in hand at least one to two hours before the drawing. For those on the East Coast, that means by around 9 or 10 p.m. For those on Central Time, that means by around 8 or 9 p.m. For those in Mountain Time, by 7 or 8 p.m. And for people on the West Coast, by 6 or 7 p.m. at the latest.

EARLIER: But the steep odds are no reason to not buy a ticket or 40, if you feel so moved. I mean, someone has to win, right? But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to spend the next few hours going back and forth on the issue, trying to figure out if you’d rather gamble a little or invest your money in a sure thing, like a burrito — only to run out of your house in your pajamas at the last possible second to buy a ticket tonight. With that in mind, how late can you buy Powerball tickets?

The answer’s a little more complicated than it would initially appear. The Powerball drawing will occur at 10:59 p.m. EST tonight, and according to Powerball.com, “Draw sales cut off at least 59 minutes before the draw, but a state may cut off sales earlier.”

And a brief survey of state Powerball sites shows that the cutoff times do indeed vary slightly around the country. For instance, Pennsylvania’s cutoff time for buying Powerball tickets is 9:59 p.m. EST the day of the drawing, while in Arkansas, tickets can be sold until one hour before the drawing — which, since Arkansas is in the Central Time Zone, would be 8:59 p.m. Oregon Live reports that denizens of the Beaver State need to have their tickets in hand by 7 p.m. PST, and folks from Illinois need to have their tickets purchased by 9 p.m. CST. In my state of residence, New York, you can buy tickets until 10 p.m. EST (which means I need to get it together and decide how much of my burrito money I’m willing to dip into for this very soon).

Knowing the time at which your state cuts off ticket sales can help you avoid long lines filled with other folks who left it to the last second, but it can also help ensure that if you win, you’ll actually get the money. There have in fact been past lottery winners who were disqualified after it was discovered that they purchased their winning ticket after the sales deadline. In 2013, a California woman found that she had bought a Powerball ticket with all the winning numbers, but further investigation showed that she had done so after sales for that drawing had closed. In 2008, a Canadian man named Joel Ifergan purchased a lottery ticket with winning numbers, but was disqualified from claiming any of the jackpot after it was learned he had purchased his ticket seven seconds after the sales cut off. So while regulations obviously vary in different states and countries, it is clear that lotto officials take timing seriously. If you’re gonna play, it pays to know the rules.

So go forth and play if you wish! And remember: No matter what happens tonight, you’re still a winner to me! But also, if you do win, I have to talk to you about possibly donating some cash for my extremely pressing burrito research.

Guys, I like you too much to lie to you, so I have to give it to you straight: The odds that you’ll win the Powerball jackpot tonight are not that great. To be more specific, your chances of winning the $1.5 billion jackpot are one in 292,201,338.…

Powerball Jackpot: How late can you buy a ticket?

The Powerball jackpot has risen to an estimated $750 million, with the next drawing of the multi-state lottery game scheduled for 10:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The drawings are held Wednesdays and Saturdays. In Pennsylvania the cutoff to buy tickets is 9:59 p.m. on drawing days.

If you’re hoping to take your shot at the jackpot, here’s a few things you should know (and a few things you don’t need to know, but we couldn’t resist telling you):

How to play:

Tickets are $2, and players select five numbers from one to 69, as well as one Powerball number from one to 26. Numbers can be selected by each individual player, or given out randomly when you buy a ticket.

Matching all six numbers is what would get you the jackpot prize, but other prizes are also given out for matching at least a few of the numbers.

There is also a Power Play number drawn, which multiplies the non-jackpot prizes. Participating in the Power Play option costs an additional $1 when a ticket is purchased.

Powerball tickets are shown outside of a a liquor store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Fremont, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) AP

What are my odds of winning?

The odds of winning the jackpot is pretty long. According to the Pennsylvania Lottery, it’s about 1 in 292 million.

You have better odds of:

  • Being struck by lightning (one in 750,000).
  • Being struck by an asteroid or comet (1 in 20,000).
  • Becoming a billionaire without winning the lottery (1 in 785,000).
  • Being elected president (1 in 10 million)

What could you buy if you took the $465 million cash option?

Almost anything, but here’s a few things you could splurge on:

  • A ride around the moon. With a friend. A space tourism company, as of a few years ago, was selling a slingshot ride around the moon aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft for $150 million per person.
  • The most expensive car in the world. That’s the Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita — the Swedish manufacturer of this beauty made just two. One is owned by boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who made headlines a few years ago by announcing he paid $4.8 million for the car. Maybe he’ll consider an offer?
  • A yacht. The Seven Seas, owned by movie director Steven Spielberg, cost $200 million. So you could afford that boat, but you probably couldn’t afford to run it very long.
  • Lincoln Financial bought the naming rights to the home of the Philadelphia Eagles for $139.6 million for 21 years. You could outbid them.
  • If you wanted to give the money away, try this: $400,000 would pay the tuition for 11,690 people to attend a private college.
  • Or, in the same philanthropic vein, you could build a hospital. Maybe two. The Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey cost about $207 million to build.

Start by signing the back of your ticket. Clearly print your name, address and phone number. Take some time to contact a financial advisor for advice.

The jackpot must be claimed in person at Pennsylvania Lottery headquarters in Middletown. You’ll have 60 days to decide whether you want to take the money as an annuity or take the cash option. Here’s what that means.

  • Annuity: If you select this option, you’ll receive your money in 30 annual payments over 29 years, with the payments increasing by 5 percent each year.
  • Cash option: You’ll get a lump sum payment. If the jackpot remains at $750 million, the cash payout would be $465.5 million.

Of course, whichever option you take, you’ll be responsible for paying taxes on your winnings. This also assumes you’re the only winner. If there are multiple winners, the jackpot will be split between you.

Can the winner remain anonymous in Pa.?

In Pennsylvania, certain winner information is considered a public record. The Lottery also publishes online lists of winners of $1,000 or more that include the following:

  • First name, last initial of the winner(s)
  • County of residence
  • Name of game won
  • Date of win
  • Prize amount

Under the state Lottery Law, legal entities (such as trusts) are permitted to file prize claims and receive prize funds. If you want to explore that option, you should contact an attorney.

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Powerball Jackpot: How late can you buy a ticket? The Powerball jackpot has risen to an estimated $750 million, with the next drawing of the multi-state lottery game scheduled for 10:59 p.m.