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Odds shmodds: Powerball jackpot bounces to $500 million


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A Powerball lottery ticket is seen in a convenience store in Washington on November 26, 2012. The previous drawing resulted in no winner, setting up for the record setting prize when numbers will be drawn on Wednesday. Tickets are sold in 42 US states, Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands.

The odds of winning Wednesday's multi-state Powerball jackpot — which reached a history-making $500 million mark on Tuesday — are roughly 1-in-175,000,000. 

Just in case, CBS MoneyWatch put together an action plan for wouldbe millionaires should they find themselves in the improbable path of a Powerball windfall. Californians seeking such a fate need to start driving

A $2 investment earns a chance at the second-biggest jackpot ever (no.1 = $656 million Mega Millions); a jackpot that's already defied odds by rolling over 16 consecutive times without a big winner. If the big winner winds up being you, here is step one, according to CBS MoneyWatch

1) Read the rules on the ticket and on the lottery's website. Sign your name on the back of the ticket, unless the rules forbid it. Then make a copy of it and put it in a safe deposit box. Don't feel compelled to tell the world just yet. Try to refrain from telling anyone beyond your immediate family. You can take your time before contacting the lottery authorities, but be aware that ticket expiration periods vary from state to stat, from 90 days to one year. The back of your ticket will likely detail the expiration period for your state.

The remaining steps include assembling a team of advisors and attorneys, choosing a payout option — A) installments, after federal taxes, of about $12.5 million a year for 29 years or B) as a lump sum, after federal taxes, of about $245.2 million — and strategies on how not to burn through more than $100,000 right away.

The drawing is scheduled for Wednesday Nov. 28 at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Ticket sales will cease about an hour before the drawing in the 42 participating states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Residents of Alabama, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming will need to do some traveling to legally buy a ticket in time.

USA Today reports that ticket sales are expected to average 6.3 million per hour by Wednesday, according to Chuck Strutt, the executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

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