What would you do if you won $500 million?
That’s the big prize during tonight’s 7:30 p.m. Powerball jackpot drawing.
And even though the odds of winning are 1 in 175 million, you can’t win if you don’t play, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to win during the most wonderful time of the year?
For winners who take the cash option, that translates to $278.3 million before taxes and take-home pay of $194.8 million after taxes. For winners who take the annual payment option, that’s $6.4 million a year in payments after taxes over 30 years ($300 million over that time), according to information from the Arizona Lottery Commission.
Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is the largest in the game’s 25-year history, surpassing the previous high $365 million jackpot in 2006. The Powerball became available in Arizona in April, 1992. Currently, the game, which consists of picking five numbers on the card and a sixth Powerball number at $2 a chance, is available in 42 states including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On Monday, in mom-and-pop convenience stores and carryouts throughout the East Valley, it was the calm before the storm as sales were slow but expected to pick up by Wednesday evening. But at the Circle K convenience store at Alma School Road and Eighth Street in west Mesa, which sees a steady stream of customers, people weren’t thinking twice as they filled out their numbers.
When Connie Lynn of Mesa was asked if she was playing the Powerball as she was leaning over the counter filling out two chances, the elderly lady was quick to answer: “You bet I am.”
Lynn, who said she buys Powerball tickets about once a month depending on her small budget, had a good attitude of what she would do with the money if she won.
Lynn, who said she plays the same numbers each time, said she is set to marry her high school sweetheart on Dec. 24, a man she has known for 52 years and has been waiting 26 years to marry.
So, one of the first things she would do if she won would be to order her wedding dress.
“I also would take care of mine and my son’s debts, which aren’t much,” Lynn added. “I’d do a lot of good for people to turn their life around and add to my philanthropic fund. I would buy a house and two new vehicles. I’d be conservative and probably spend 95 percent of it helping others.”
“I’m not a real gambler,” Lynn added. “It’s enough of a gamble to live in this world and economy.”
Wearing suspenders and drinking a cup of coffee, Chuck Van Erstvelde’s sentiments somewhat echoed Lynn’s, but he bought three chances nonetheless.
“The way I look at it, the odds are against me,” Erstvelde, a Mesa resident, said. “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I can’t win on the scratch-offs. I don’t know, but maybe this time it might pay off.”
What would he do if he actually won?
“I don’t know until I get it, but I guess anything I wanted,” Erstvelde said. “I know where I got the ticket, and I’d give some money to the cashier who sold it to me — I could afford to give her $5 or $6 million. I’d have some explaining to do to my wife, but that would be all right. If I won, I just might walk around until I found something I liked and buy it. I’d maybe buy a couple of houses.”
“If you hear me screaming on Wednesday, you know I won — and you’ll be able to hear me from wherever I’m at.”
Valerie Bailey of Mesa spent $10 for a chance to win the big pot.
If she wins, she said she’d also be conservative with her winnings.
“First, I’d set up all six of my kids, and I’d go on vacation,” Bailey said. “I’d like to go to Alaska, when it’s warmer, of course, or Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go there. I’d also donate money to a charity, likely United Way.”
But what did Bailey think of her odds of winning the record-setting jackpot?
“Everybody has a good shot,” she said.
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