Powerball fever hits Austin with record jackpot

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Someone is about to start 2016 on the right foot. After Wednesday’s $500 million Powerball prize claimed no winner, the jackpot now climbs to $700 million and so begins the mad rush to convenient stores, many hoping to cash in on the big win.

Keep in mind the odds of winning right now — about one in 292 million. There hasn’t been a Powerball winner since early November, which is why the prize has grown so large. The most recent report shows the state of Texas spends 63 percent of the lottery money on paying out prizes. 28 percent went to education. The rest went to retail, administration, veterans assistance programs and other various programs.

For many people in Austin, they’re simply hoping they wake up a millionaire this weekend.

“I’d give my family money and then I would help the homeless because it’s really bad in Austin,” said one shopper. “I know it’s one in a million, but it’s a chance.”

“I’d take all my friends and family and go around the world,” said another shopper.

What happens if you just happen to beat all the odds and win? After the screaming and jumping for joy, here’s some advice from a local financial adviser:

  • Sign the back of the ticket
  • Keep it in a safe place
  • Stay quiet — don’t put anything on social media right away
  • Make some phone calls and assemble a legal team including a tax attorney
  • Stay as anonymous as you can

“There’s a way that maybe we can set up a charity or an LLC to help really disguise your identity and that’s really important because the dynamic, your social dynamic when this happens, the people around you, everything is going to change,” said Chris Heerlein, an adviser with REAP Financial.

The winner has options — the $700 million jackpot can either be paid out over 30 years or as an immediate $428.4 million in cash.

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