$550M Powerball jackpot entices Tennesseans to play

(Photo: WKRN)

A tiny ticket with six numbers is all that stands between the ticket holder and $550 million.

With so much buzz around the lottery drawing, Nashville's News 2 consulted with Tennessee lottery officials and Lee Griffith, financial attorney at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, in Nashville, for more information.

Wednesday's Powerball jackpot is the largest in the game's history. Tennessee lottery officials expect ticket sales to go up six to seven times more than an average Powerball drawing.

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175 million.

Winners have two options, a lump sum payment of $360.2 million or a series of payments over 26 years.

Winners are required to pay taxes.

The Tennessee lottery withholds 25% of winnings for federal taxes. However, larger sums of money typically fall in a higher tax bracket that requires 35% federal taxes.

Winners would be responsible for any additional tax dollars not covered the by initial 25% withholdings. Because Tennessee does not have an income tax, Tennessee residents do not have to pay state taxes on winnings.

Experts recommend getting a legal or financial advisor to help plan your fortune's future.

Griffith recommends going a step further and writing down what's important to you to avoid lottery pitfalls.

Countless ticket holders do not buy alone.

“Six or seven of us that work together at work, that we put $20 in a month, in a pot, so it would be exciting for all of us to win,” said Wayne Bishop.  

Under lottery rules, only one person can claim lottery winnings. Griffith recommends creating documentation by making a copy of tickets with a list of participants.

Privacy is also an issue for many lottery winners.

“I'd want to stay anonymous because it's kind of crazy out there and that's a lot of money,” said Shon Myles.

Anonymity may not be possible. Tennessee is a free records state, which means winner information must be provided from the Tennessee Lottery if requested.

While ticket holders dream of their winners, lottery officials warn winners that it could take up to two weeks before money is distributed.

The last Powerball Jackpot winner in Tennessee was in 2005. The winner, from South Pittsburh in east Tennessee, won more than $25 million.

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