UPDATE: The winner has been identified! Mavis Wanczyk of Chicopee, Massachusetts has come forward to claim her $758.7 million prize!
“Wanczyk, 53, a mother of two adult children, came to lottery headquarters in Braintree late Thursday morning to claim her prize and was introduced a short time later at a news conference there.”
Many on the internet were quick to liken Powerball to Steve Harvey after it misidentified the location that had sold its $758.7 million winning ticket Thursday. Just like Mr. Harvey hosting announcing the 2015 Miss Universe winner, Powerball initially announced that the runner up was the winner.
Massachusetts State Lottery first reported the winning ticket had been sold in Watertown which is just west of Boston, only to later clarify that the Handy Variety conv enience store in Watertown had only actually sold a $1 million prize rather than the Powerball jackpot.
That nearly $800 million prize was, in fact, sold in Chicopee, Massachusetts at a Pride Station & Store.
There was also a $1 million prize sold in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Pride Station & Stores founder Bob Bolduc announced a description of the wining-ticket buyer Thursday, stating only that it was sold to a middle-aged woman at approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
The convenience store that sold the winning ticket will receive a bonus and has plans to donate it to charities in the western part of the state.
Bolduc said in his statement “we just all happen to be the lucky people involved, that’s all. And we’re glad to be able to pass it on. So I’m happy in that sense; there are a lot of needs around here.”
No name for the winning-ticket holder has been released. She’ll have the option have receiving a lump sum or getting the payout in annual payments over 29 years. The Washington Post estimates that, after taxes, the payout will total only $443 million.
There were also several $2 million winners during Wednesday’s Powerball, in Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands. And, along with the Watertown and Dorchester winners, 34 tickets achieved a $1 million payout.
44 states along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands participate in the Powerball lottery, where five white balls numbered from 1 to 69 are randomly drawn twice a week and then a sixth, red ball (the Powerball) with possible numbers between 1 and 26 is drawn.
In late 2015, Powerball added 10 more white balls in an attempt to amp up the possibility of “record-breaking jackpots.”
In 2016, for example, a jackpot totaling $1.6 billion was split between three different winners., making Wednesday’s jackpot the second-largest in Powerball history.
That being said, because there was only one winner Wednesday, it will be the “largest jackpot ever won by a single ticket in North America.”
Ahead of last year’s billion dollar jackpot, The Atlantic reported on the fates of various previous jackpot winners. “Many people are hoping to acquire this tremendous windfall, but is what they’re after something that will actually make them happy?”
Previous studies had concluded that lottery winners were no happier than non-lottery winners after their payouts. Interestingly, too, the majority of lottery winners in the United States did not appear to quit their jobs and spend extravagantly after their jackpot wins., with a 2004 study finding that 85.5 % of lottery winners continuing to work after their wins, and 63% even continuing to work for their same previous employer.
According to Time, “about 70 percent of people who suddenly receive a windfall of cash will lose it within a few years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.”
Much of Time’s evidence, however, was anecdotal, playing into the stereotype that Powerball winners are “cursed” in some way.
Not everyone has an awful time after winning the lottery or receiving a giant cash windfall; but, the statistics aren’t necessarily promising either.
A British study found that 44 % of lottery winners spent all their winnings within five years of receiving their payouts. A Florida study 1 % of those winning up to $150,000 filed for bankruptcy in a given year which is twice the rate for the normal population. This could be due to a misperception about how far a lower amount of money could gocompared with actual, multi-million dollar payouts.
That so-called “curse” may actually just be a human curse called greed, with a seemingly large number of winners finding themselves robed sued by family, or having their lives endangered or actually taken by those attempting to get their hands on their winnings.
The real curse has more to do with how the lottery works. “Americans spend $70 billion on tickets each year, and the overwhelming majority of those players are poor,” according to Think Progress. “States keep pushing their lotteries because they are a source of revenue, and while they promise to use the money to fund services like education, that almost never actually pans out.”
People keep playing, though, because it’s an accelerated, distorted version of the American Dream, going from rich to poor in one-fell ticket-buy.
If you do win, the best bet is to consult a financial expert of some kind, and either invest some of the money, keep some kind of regular income-paying job, or start a viable business so that you keep a realistic idea about your finances and financial future. No matter how large the payout, the money will run out eventually and that’s when things could just get sad.
According to CNBC, “the chances of winning last night’s $759 million Powerball were approximately one in 290 million…you’re more likely to get struck by lightening, attacked by a shark, hit by a meteor and score a hole-in-one on the same day.” Check that article out for “5 more reliable ways to get rich over time,” and it may make you feel better about not being that middle-aged, Massachusetts woman.