As of Saturday at noon, the prize was $900 million with a $558 million cash value.
The jackpot - won by matching all five white balls in any order and the red Powerball - is either an annuitized prize paid out over 29 years (30 payments counting the first immediate payment) or a cash lump sum payment. If you choose the cash, then you get the cash, pay the tax, and can invest what is left over. If you choose the annuity, then Powerball invests the cash amount pre-tax, less an immediate first payment (more to invest means more earnings). With the annuity, you get an annual payment that is increased by 5 percent each year to keep up with the cost of living.
The second prize - won by matching five white balls in any order - is $1,000,000 paid in cash with no annuity option. You win something by matching at least three white ball numbers. Any time you match the red Powerball, you win a prize. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are approximately 1 in 25. Players win a prize by matching one of the "9 Ways to Win."
Louisiana residents who are Powerball winners can only claim their prize at Louisiana Lottery Headquarters in Baton Rouge. Winners should call (800) 735-5825 for specific information on claiming jackpot prizes, and you must do so within 180 days of the drawing.
A gambling income statement, a W-2G, is printed for each ticket greater than $600 and given to the claimant when they receive their prize check. Winners should keep the W-2G secure until they are ready to file their federal and state income taxes.
All but a handful of states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio) have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks. Some states are considering anonymous claims, other states are considering a one-year period of anonymity to give the winners time to get used to their new lifestyle. Other states may offer to assist you in some way, including such things as the creation of trusts. But generally, you will want to hire an attorney to review the laws in your state to see what options you might have.
Photos and press conferences are up to you for most part, though some states add a requirement for photos on their tickets. The Powerball website advises winners to "get it over with" as far as media coverage is concerned so that you don't have one or more reporters following you around to get that "exclusive" interview. Even if the you can keep your identity secret from the press and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery - so they can confirm that you are eligible to play and win.