Powerball jackpot $403 million; we all can dream

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The largest Powerball jackpot in history was drawn more than a year ago, Jan. 13, 2016, with a number worth $1.6 billion was split three ways.

Two of the winners came forward almost immediately, but the third, a Chino Hills, Calif., couple, claimed their prize six months later, after they had assembled a team of advisers.

It's not $1.6 billion, but tonight's Powerball jackpot is nothing to sneeze at, $403 million or the 10th largest Powerball in history.

Other big winner include 20 co-workers in Tennessee split a $420 million prize in November, and closer to home in 2006, eight workers at the Cook's ham plant in Lincoln, Neb., shared a $365 million jackpot.

There may be some lines at the Powerball window today, but keep in mind the odds -- 1 in 292 million.

By comparison, you have a 1 to 12.1 million chance of becoming an astronaut, 1 in 10 million of being a U.S. president, 1 in 1.5 million of becoming a movie star, 1 in 662,000 chance of winning an Olympic gold medal and 1 in 11,500 chance of winning an Oscar.

We all can dream, and there's nothing wrong with blowing a couple of bucks on a long shot -- make that an extremely long shot -- but consider some alternatives.

The Kiplinger folks, for instance, have some recommendations:

1. Pay down credit-card debt. Paying off a balance with a 13 percent interest rate is like earning 13 percent on your investments -- a higher rate than you'll get almost anywhere.

2. Boost your 401(k) contributions, especially if your employer matches your contributions.

3. Open a Roth IRA. If you're already maxing out your retirement account at work, contribute to a Roth IRA.

4. Increase mortgage payments. A little extra can add up to a big savings over a few years.

5. Buy stocks or shares of mutual funds outside of your retirement account -- the stock market has far outpaced other investments in recent months.

So go ahead and dream, and buy a Powerball ticket or two if you're so inclined. But put that same amount of money in another sound investment over time, and you'll be far ahead.

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