What if you win the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot?
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WIGGINS, CO – January 12: Curtis Busby purchases a Powerball ticket from Karla Lara at the ÒStubsÓ Dino Mart Sinclair gas station January 12, 2015. As of Tuesday January 12, 2015, the Powerball was at $1.5 billion, a new record high.
Powerball signs can’t fit the new record $1.5 billion prize, â Stubsâ Dino Mart Sinclair gas station made their own January 12, 2015.
Admit it. You bought a Powerball ticket not because a portion of every dollar sold in Colorado goes to fund parks, trails, outdoor recreation and schools.
You’re a dreamer. In the days and hours before the multi-state lottery tries again to find a winner of the record jackpot Wednesday night, the would-be wealthy shared fantasies of buying a house, a Colorado mountain range or a ticket to the Denver Broncos’ first playoff game.
In reality, odds that you’ll win the jackpot are terrible . Even buying every combination possible — that’s 292 million tickets — you’ll win, but you’ll likely share the cash and be out the $584 million spent to ante.
David Gold, a venture capitalist with Access Venture Partners in Westminster, did the math.
He only plays “when the expected value of a ticket exceeds the cost of the ticket.” And it just doesn’t add up, he said, even with the jackpot at $1.5 billion, as it was Tuesday afternoon. The expected value of the $2 ticket — cash winnings, after taxes, divided by the odds of 1 in 292 million — is $1.75.
“And, of course, that assumes you are the only winner,” Gold said. But given the size of the pot, he said, “I may break my rule for this one, just for entertainment value.”
Losing may leave you better off, say financial experts who are wary of the completely new life that big money can bring.
“You have no idea how debilitating it can be. Seriously,” said Myra Salzer, founder of The Wealth Conservancy in Boulder, who advises people who suddenly become rich. “It’s going to ruin lives if it’s not done right.”
But let’s think positive. Should you win, she advises, don’t rush to claim the money. Before telling officials you’re the state’s newest billionaire, disconnect your phones, get an unlisted number and hire a chief financial officer, Salzer said. (Companies like hers charge a “negotiated rate” for that service when wealth is over $500,000.)
Colorado winners can stay somewhat anonymous by setting up a trust fund or limited liability company, lottery spokeswoman Brooke Christopher said.
“We never give financial counsel, but if a winner wanted to set up an LLC or trust fund, they have the option to do that,” she said. “The name of the trust fund would be public record.”
Also public: the winner’s hometown and the retailer that sold the winning ticket.
Last week, Colorado Powerball sales hit $22.8 million, Christopher said. Weekly sales typically are $1.3 million to $1.4 million.
As of Tuesday morning, $41.2 million in tickets had been sold in Colorado for this specific Powerball gamble, which has so far included 20 drawings .
If Wednesday’s drawing ends up with you getting a fat check, you may also want to add a therapist who specializes in sudden wealth to your list of trusted advisers.
“A therapist can talk to people about their values when it comes to money, their vision,” said Jennifer Dunkle, a licensed professional counselor in Fort Collins who is a member of the Financial Therapy Association. She usually counsels couples where money has become a disconnect.
One of the easier choices is how to accept the money. Powerball offers winners a choice: A one-time payment, $930 million as of Tuesday, or 30 smaller payments over 29 years, or about $50 million a year.
Financial experts have long advised taking the cash since you can invest the money for a better return. But with a jackpot this big, the annuity makes sense.
“Can you safely save and manage the money? There are stories upon stories and statistics aplenty that demonstrate that this is an exceptionally difficult thing to do when receiving a windfall,” said Wendi Strom, a certified financial planner with Renaissance Wealth Management in Englewood. “An annuity option would provide an automatic annual renewal of funds.”
And then there are taxes, “a sickening number,” said Jeff Belair, CPA and tax partner at EKS&H tax consultants in Denver.
Federal income taxes alone could consume 39.6 percent . Colorado takes another 4.63 percent. That drops the lump sum to $518.7 million and the annual payout to $27.9 million.
One way to lower your bill is to make charitable contributions. Bruce DeBoskey, a philanthropic strategist with The DeBoskey Group in Denver, recommends creating a foundation or a donor-advised fund. And then strategize.
“You can write checks all day long and not change a thing,” he said. “The idea about being strategic about your philanthropy is being strategic about what needle you want to move and what is the benefit you want to have on society.”
But no matter how generous you are, there will be taxes.
Even if you donate half to charity — the maximum one can deduct — you still must pay taxes on the other half. Donate everything and you also still pay taxes on half of your income.
“Income is the income is the income,” said Mira Finé, national director of tax operations at Hein & Associates in Denver.
Her firm has advised lottery winners in the past where taxes proved costly. One well-intentioned client regularly gave a lottery ticket to a disabled woman on the 16th Street Mall. When she won, she was disqualified from her subsidized housing and had to file taxes, Finé said.
“She got really mad at the guy. She didn’t want to win,” Finé said. He ended up paying her tax bill.
“That lottery ticket he bought her cost him a whole lot more,” she said. “There are so many things you don’t think about and how it affects you when you win that money.”
Tamara Chuang: [email protected] or visit dpo.st/tamara
What the state of Colorado will take
Colorado’s share of the Powerball is 24 percent of tickets sold in the state. Last fiscal year, the state collected $128 million from all lottery sales. This year, there could be a new record, Colorado Lottery spokeswoman Brooke Christopher said.
Every cent over a state-mandated cap, which was about $126 million last year, flows to the state education department’s Building Excellent Schools Today program to help build schools in underfunded districts. BEST received $1.9 million last fiscal year.
“We’re in a really good position to give them a lot more than we’ve given them in past years,” Christopher said.
What could you buy?
• $200 million: The Playboy Mansion, a 5-acre property in Los Angeles complete with 29 rooms, a rare zoo license and Hugh Hefner.
• $300 million: A circumlunar trip for two around the moon via Space Adventures. First mission expected to launch by 2018.
• $410.25 million: The 10 most expensive homes in Colorado, according to Zillow.
• $750 million: The reported sale price of the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League team.
• $1 billion+: Pep Boys, as long as you beat out current buyer Carl Icahn, whose $1 billion offer was accepted by the auto parts retailer with 800 stores.
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Powerball: Pay $2 and choose 5 from 69 numbers and 1 from 26 for the Powerball (or ask for a Quick Pick and the system will generate your numbers for you). You can add Power Play (which can increase your winnings) for an extra $1. You can buy up to 13 weeks (26 drawings) in advance by asking for Advance Play. Drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at approximately 9pm.
Mega Millions: Pay $2 and choose 5 from 70 numbers and 1 from 25 for the Megaball (or ask for a Quick Pick and the system will generate your numbers for you). You can add Megaplier (which can increase your winnings) for an extra $1. You can buy up to 13 weeks (26 drawings) in advance by asking for Advance Play. Drawings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at approximately 9pm.
Lucky for Life: Pay $2 and choose 5 from 48 numbers and 1 from 18 for the Lucky Ball (or ask for a Quick Pick and the system will generate your numbers for you). You can buy up to 13 weeks (26 drawings) in advance by asking for Advance Play. Drawings are held on Mondays and Thursdays at approximately 8:38pm.
Colorado Lotto+: Pay $2 and choose 6 out of 40 numbers or ask for a Quick Pick and the system will generate your numbers for you. For an extra $1 per play you can add Plus and play your same numbers against a second drawing. You can buy up to 13 weeks (26 drawings) in advance by asking for Advance Play. Drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at approximately 7:35pm.
Cash 5: Pay $1 and choose 5 out of 32 numbers or ask for a Quick Pick and the system will generate your numbers for you. You can buy up to 13 weeks (91 drawings) in advance by asking for Advance Play. For an extra $1 ask for the Cash 5 EZ Match option and you could win from $2 up to $500 instantly. You can ask for a Quick Pick with EZ Match or you can complete a play slip and check the EZ Match box. You can also purchase EZ Match using our vending machines as long as you complete a play slip with the EZ Match option selected. Your Cash 5 EZ Match ticket will have your five Cash 5 numbers plus five EZ Match numbers. If any of your EZ Match numbers match any of your Cash 5 numbers, you’ll instantly win the prize that is listed next to the EZ Match number. You can win multiple times by matching multiple numbers on one ticket. Drawings are held seven days a week at approximately 7:35pm.
Pick 3: Pay $.50; $1; $2 and $5 depending on the wager you play. The easiest way is to ask for a Quick Pick and then select your bet option or you can complete a play slip.
Select three numbers from 0 through 9. The numbers selected can be three separate numbers or may be duplicated in a single play. For example: ‘537’ or ‘009’ or ‘339’. (You can win more when you play two duplicate numbers on an ANY ORDER bet type.)
Select your bet option: EXACT ORDER, ANY ORDER, EXACT ORDER + ANY ORDER, FRONT PAIR and BACK PAIR. (To win, numbers drawn must match the wager type.)
The only way to win off of two matching numbers is to place your bet on FRONT PAIR or BACK PAIR. If you wager FRONT PAIR or BACK PAIR, the numbers drawn must match the order in which you wagered your numbers.
If you place a bet on ANY ORDER, EXACT ORDER, or EXACT ORDER/ANY ORDER, the only possible way to win is by matching all of your three numbers wagered to the numbers drawn. Even if the numbers drawn are two of the same number, you must still match all three of your numbers wagered with those drawn.
You bet: 3 – 4 – 4 ANY ORDER
In order to win, all three numbers must be drawn (3 – 4 – 4) for you to win. If only one “4” is drawn, you do not have a winning Pick 3 ticket.
Powerball is $2; Power Play is an additional $1.
Mega Millions is $2; Megaplier is an additional $1.
Colorado Lotto+ is $2; Plus is an additional $1.
Lucky for Life is $2
Cash 5 is $1; EZ Match is an additional $1.
Pick 3 offers various wagers: 50 cents for Exact Order, Any Order, Front Pair, or Back Pair. You can place a $1, $2 or $5 bet on Exact Order, Any Order, Exact Order / Any Order, Front Pair, or Back Pair.
Powerball: Odds for the Powerball jackpot are 1:292,201,338. The odds of winning any prize are 1:25.
Mega Millions: Odds for the Mega Millions jackpot are 1:302,575,350. The odds of winning any prize are 1:24.
Lucky for Life: Odds of winning the Lucky for Life jackpot are 1:30,821,472. The odds of winning any prize are 1:8.
Colorado Lotto+: Odds of winning the Colorado Lotto+ jackpot are 1:3,838,380. The odds of winning the Plus jackpot is 1 in 3,838,380 million. The odds of winning any prize are 1:30.
Cash 5: Odds of winning the Cash 5 jackpot are 1:201,376. The odds of winning any prize are 1:6.2.
Pick 3: Odds vary. Please see this table (link).
The Powerball jackpot is determined based on sales and increases until it is hit when a winner matches all 6 numbers (5 numbers plus the Powerball).
The Mega Millions jackpot is determined based on sales and increases until it is hit when a winner matches all 6 numbers (5 numbers plus the Mega Ball).
The Colorado Lotto+ jackpot starts at $1 million and increases until it is hit when a winner matches all 6 numbers drawn. The Plus jackpot is $250,000 and is won when a player matches all 6 numbers drawn in the second Plus drawing.
The Lucky for Life jackpot is $1,000 a day for life.
The Cash 5 jackpot is $20,000.
The Pick 3 does not have a jackpot prize since prizes are associated with the bets wagered. See table (link).
Power Play is an exciting way to increase your Powerball winnings. For an additional $1 per line of play, you can multiply your winnings by 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 times (jackpot excluded)! The 10 times Power Play multiplier is only available when the Jackpot is $150 million or less. The drawing for the Power Play multiplier is done prior to the Powerball drawing. Any non-jackpot prize won on a Powerball play will be multiplied by the Power Play number drawn if you purchased the Power Play feature with the exception of the 5 of 5, which will pay $2 million instead of $1 million no matter what the Power Play number is.
*Powerball may reduce prize levels for Powerball and/or Power Play, including the MATCH 5+0 prize, if the number of winners claiming prizes exceeds the available draw sales and prize reserves.
Megaplier is an exciting way to increase your Mega Millions winnings. For an additional $1 per line of play, you can multiply your winnings by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times (jackpot excluded)! The Megaplier number is chosen from a wheel spin with 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s. Any non-jackpot prize won on a Mega Millions play will be multiplied by the Megaplier number drawn if you purchased the Megaplier feature. For example, if you win the Match 4 price of $10,000 and the Megaplier is 3, you would win $30,000 instead of $10,000.
And if you win the Match 5 prize of $1,000,000, and you also purchased Megaplier, your winnings could be multiplied by 5 and you could win a nice $5 million without hitting the jackpot*!
* Mega Millions may reduce prize levels for Mega Millions and/or Megaplier, including the Match 5+0 prize, if the number of winners claiming prizes exceeds the available draw sales and prize reserves.
Advance Play allows you to purchase up to 13 weeks of tickets at one time (26 draws for Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and Lotto, and 91 draws for Cash 5). For Pick 3, you can play the same numbers for up to 28 consecutive drawings when you specifically play drawings for Midday only or for Evening only. If you request to play both Midday and Evening drawings, you can play the same numbers for up to 56 drawings. Check the Advance Play box on your play slip and then tell your retailer how many draws you’d like to play. The same numbers will be used for all of the drawings you request. You can check your ticket after all your drawings have been conducted and collect your winnings at once, or collect them as you go along. If you choose to collect your winnings after each drawing you win, be sure you get a replacement ticket. Advance Play is available at Lottery retail locations throughout Colorado.
Purchase Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, Colorado Lotto+, Cash 5 and Pick 3 tickets beginning at 4:30 am Monday through Saturday and at 8 am on Sunday.
Sales are not available during Draw Break on drawing nights:
Cash 5: Each evening (7 nights a week) at 7:30 pm – 7:33 pm.
Powerball and Colorado Lotto+: Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 pm – 7:33 pm.
Mega Millions: Tuesday and Friday 7:30 pm – 7:33 pm.
Lucky for Life: Monday and Thursday 7:30 pm- 7:33 pm.
Pick 3: Monday through Sunday: 1:30 pm – 1:33 pm and 7:30 pm – 7:33 pm
Sales will resume after draw break, however, tickets cannot be redeemed until after the drawing at approximately 9 pm. All sales are suspended each evening at 11:59 pm for system balancing.
If you complete a play slip, up to five bets/plays will print on the ticket. Up to 10/bets/plays will print on a ticket if you request a Quick Pick from the retailer.
These tickets cannot be cancelled: Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, Colorado Lotto+, Cash 5 with EZ Match
Cash 5, Pick 3: These tickets can be cancelled within one-hour of purchase, before the store closes, or before the Lottery system shut-off, whichever occurs first. Tickets must be cancelled at the terminal where purchased.
The only exception to this rule is for Pick 3. For all other Jackpot games, you can match the numbers drawn in any order. Pick 3 offers the following bets: Exact Order, Front Pair and Back Pair. When these bets are wagered you must get the numbers drawn in that order to win the prize associated with that wager.
Powerball: Wednesdays & Saturdays at approximately 9pm. Drawings are held at the Florida Lottery in Tallahassee, Florida.
Mega Millions: Tuesdays & Fridays at approximately 9pm. Drawings are held at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lucky for Life: Mondays & Thursdays at approximately 8:38pm. Drawings are held at the Connecticut Lottery.
Colorado Lotto+: Wednesdays & Saturdays at approximately 7:35pm in Pueblo.
Cash 5: Seven days a week at approximately 7:35pm in Pueblo.
Pick 3: Two times a day at approximately 1:36 pm and 7:36 pm every day of the week in Pueblo.
Drawings for the in-state Jackpot games, Colorado Lotto+, Cash 5, and Pick 3 are conducted on computers called an ADM (Automated Drawing Machine). The ADM is a stand-alone computer which is not connected to any network or other systems and is locked in a secure room. The ADM is certified by the manufacture for randomness and is independently verified by a third party auditor. To ensure the integrity of each drawing, an independent certified public accountant (auditor) is present at every drawing. Citizens are welcome to witness a drawing by appointment, please contact the Drawing Manager at 719-546-5318 if you are interested.
Mega Jackpot Games
- The winning numbers for Powerball are generated using ball drop machines at the Florida Lottery in Tallahassee, Florida. One machine holds the 69 white balls and another holds the 26 red ones. The balls are released and air makes them circulate in the machine until they are drawn into the winning numbers chute.
- The winning numbers for Mega Millions are also generated using ball drop machines at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. One machine holds the 70 white balls and another holds the 25 yellow ones. The balls are released and air makes them circulate in the machine until they are drawn into the winning numbers chute.
In-State Jackpot Games
- The winning numbers for Colorado Lotto+ and Cash 5 are generated from Automated Drawing Machines (ADM) in Pueblo, Colorado. The ADM machines are stand-alone PCs that do not connect to any other computer system including the Internet. This PCs use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to select the winning numbers. This RNG uses a software program that limits the range of numbers available (1-40 for Colorado Lotto+ and 1-32 for Cash 5) and also eliminates the possibility of duplicate numbers being drawn in a single drawing (i.e. Cash 5 winning numbers cannot include two “22”s in the set of 5 drawn numbers).
Both the ADM and the ball drop machines are inspected by third-parties and certified by auditors prior to use.
Current winning numbers and access to past winning numbers can be found on the home page of our website and can be found using our mobile app. You can also have winning numbers sent direct to your mobile device via text or by email when you sign up to belong to MyLottery. Lottery results are also publicized by most television stations and daily newspapers. Lottery retailers can also print winning numbers reports for current and past drawing dates.
We began selling Powerball tickets on August 2, 2001, with the first drawing taking place on August 4, 2001. Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.
We began selling Mega Millions tickets on May 16, 2010. The first drawing was held on May 18, 2010. Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.
We began selling Lucky for Life tickets on July 17, 2016. The first drawing was held on July 18, 2016. Lucky for life is played in 26 states.
The games are very similar with top prizes available for players who match all numbers drawn. Mega Millions and Powerball starting jackpots are based on sales. Jackpot odds for Mega Millions are 1 in 302.5 million with overall odds of 1:24; Powerball jackpot odds are 1 in 292.2 million and overall odds are 1:25. Mega Millions and Powerball tickets cost $2 per line of play. Both games offer an optional multiplier feature: Megaplier of Mega Millions and Power Play for Powerball. Mega Millions drawings are held on Tuesday and Friday evenings; Powerball drawings are held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.
A Powerball jackpot winner may choose to receive their prize in 30 payments over 29 years or a lump-sum payment. The cash value option, in general, is the amount of money required to be in the jackpot prize pool, on the day of the drawing, to fund the estimated jackpot annuity prize. The advertised jackpot annuity and cash value are estimates until ticket sales are final, and for the annuity, until the Multi-State Lottery Association takes bids on the purchase of the securities.
If you are a Mega Millions jackpot winner, you will have the choice of a Cash Option or an Annual Payout. Annuity Option: Provides for an initial annual payment followed by 29 annual payments. Each payment is 5 percent larger than the previous one. Cash Option: A one-time lump-sum payment that is equal to all the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool.
Federal and State Income tax apply to whatever income you actually receive in a given tax year, whether it is wages or lottery prizes. If you take the cash amount (say $50 million), then you pay income tax on $50 million. If you take the annuity (say $100 million), then you pay income tax on the money you actually receive each year. Just like your wages, a withholding amount is required to be taken out immediately. The Lottery will send you a W2-G form and you figure your actual tax at tax time.
A fixed percentage of every Mega Millions and Powerball ticket sold goes into its CASH jackpot. The cash jackpot is all the money that the lottery has on hand from the sale of tickets in the game. If a player chooses the cash option, then the Lottery will pay the entire cash amount to the winner (less income tax withholding amounts required by federal and state laws).
The Lottery also offers an ANNUITY jackpot option that can help reduce taxes and offers the winner a 100% guaranteed income stream over time. The two games offer different types of annual income streams, giving the players more options. If a winner elects the annuity option, then the Lottery will invest the entire cash amount before taxes are deducted. The difference between the CASH jackpot and the ANNUITY jackpot is the interest earnings that build over time. The Powerball annuity jackpot earns more interest for two reasons.
1. The Powerball Annuity Jackpot invests more money for a longer period of time. The Powerball annuity is paid out in graduated amounts (rising by 4% per year to keep up with inflation) over 29 years (30 payments). The annual payments grow larger to keep pace with the winner’s expected cost of living. The Mega Millions annuity p rovides for an initial annual payment followed by 29 annual payments. Each payment is 5 percent larger than the previous one. In both cases, the first payment is an immediate cash payment.
2. The Powerball Annuity Jackpot is invested in a wider variety of securities than the Mega Millions Jackpot, allowing more interest to be earned. All of the securities used to support both games’ jackpots offer significant levels of U.S. Governmental backing. It is important to understand that the Lottery is invested in these securities; not the winner. The winner has a contract with the states to pay the annual prize payment, no matter what happens to the securities.
Since the two games’ jackpots are invested differently, if the CASH jackpots are the same, the Powerball jackpot will pay a larger ANNUITY over time than Mega Millions. If the ANNUITY value of the jackpots is the same, then Mega Millions’ CASH jackpot will be larger than Powerball’s CASH jackpot. The CASH jackpot amounts present the true present-day values of the jackpots. A winner who wishes to take the CASH jackpot should compare only the CASH jackpot amounts. The ANNUITY jackpot amounts will be important for those winners who plan to select a long-term, fully guaranteed income stream.
Top Prize: One (1) winner receives the full annuity value of seven thousand dollars ($7,000) a week for life with the option of taking the cash value.
- The Top Prize cash value is set forth in the “Published Notice” available on the Lottery terminals, Lottery website, and Lucky for Life website. The cash value can be revised thirty (30) days prior to the first drawing in which it is applicable.
- All annuitized payments shall be made for a minimum of twenty (20) years.
- Two (2) to fourteen (14) Top Prize winners share equally in the pari-mutuel prize of seven thousand dollars ($7,000) a week for life with the option of taking the cash value divided by the total number of Top Prize winners. The cash option must be taken if the annuitized value is less than five hundred dollars ($500) a week for life.
- Fifteen (15) or more Top Prize winners share equally in a pari-mutuel prize of seven million one hundred twenty-five thousand dollars ($7,125,000). No annuity option shall be available at this level.
- For a single Wager, the measuring life of a Top Prize Winner used to determine the duration over which the Top Prize is paid, shall be the natural life of the individual determined by the Selling Lottery to be the Top Prize Winner. If the Top Prize under a single Wager is being claimed by more than one (1) natural person or by a legal entity, the measuring life for that Top Prize Winner shall be twenty (20) years.
We do not offer an online or mail-in subscription service. We offer Advance Play through our retailers where you can play up to 26 draws for Powerball, Mega Millions, Colorado Lotto+ and Lucky for Life, and up to 91 draws for Cash 5 (13 weeks). Check the Advance Play box on the edge of your play slip. The retailer will ask you how many draws you’d like to play, and charge you accordingly. The same numbers will be played for all drawings purchased.
In Colorado, about 80 percent of purchases are Quick Picks.
Although the Colorado Lottery has the initial winning number information within minutes of each drawing, we do not post the information until it is verified which can take some time.
You can find this information on the our website in the Scratch game section, or you can ask any Colorado Lottery retailer for a Scratch Game Top Prizes Remaining report, which is available off of their terminal.
Players have 180 days after a game has ended to claim a Scratch prize. Select any game listed in the Scratch section of our website and it will tell you if a game end date has been established. Games remain posted 60 days after the 180 days has expired. After that they will be removed from our website.
The odds of winning Scratch games vary. If the odds of winning in a game is 1 in 4, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if four tickets are purchased, one would be a winner. Odds are based on the total number of tickets available for sale in a game, not on an individual purchase.
Our Scratch tickets are produced and distributed in a completely random, double-blind system. First, prizes are scattered randomly throughout the entire run of the tickets. No one at the Lottery, or the printer, knows where the winning tickets are placed – that is generated through a random number generation system. Next, the tickets are shipped to our warehouses for distribution. Tickets are randomly pulled from the entire ticket run and shipped to random retailers. There is no sequencing to ticket distribution. So, randomly placed prizes are randomly distributed to random retailers. We have no way of knowing where the winning tickets are shipped or where they will show up. The reason it seems as though some locations have more winners is simply a matter of sales. If more tickets are purchased in the Denver Metro Area, it would follow that a commensurate number of winners would be located in the Denver Metro Area. Retailers who sell a lot of tickets will have a greater likelihood of getting a pack with a winner in it just because they sell many more tickets and have to replace them with new packs of tickets.
We’re sorry to hear that didn’t have better luck with your ticket purchases. Please keep in mind that odds listed on our tickets apply to the entire universe of tickets, not individual purchases. The odds also include break-even prizes. Your non-winning tickets may be eligible for one of our second-chance drawings, which provides another opportunity to win.
No. Ticket printing costs prevent the Lottery from making sample or void tickets available to players.
The Lottery offers players a number of ways to claim prizes. You can mail the signed ticket to the Lottery’s Pueblo Headquarters with a Lottery claim form, or in person at any one of the Lottery’s four claims centers.
The Colorado Lottery does not recognize trusts, partnerships or corporations as winners of Lottery prizes. Once an individual has claimed a prize, they can open a trust, partnership or corporation.
If you win on a ticket in Colorado, it is considered part of the Colorado Open Records Act. This means that your first name and first initial of your last name goes onto the Colorado Lottery website. Having your photo taken is optional.
Current tax withholding for U.S. citizens for prizes over $5,000 is 24% Federal and 4% State, for a total of 28%. If you have outstanding payments due to the Department of Human Services, Department of Justice or Department of Personnel and Administration, these will be deducted from your prize valued at $600 or more.
Players have 180 days from the date of the drawing to collect prize winnings. Game end dates for Scratch games are available by selecting the game name in the Scratch section.
If a winner dies before receiving all annual payments, payments will continue, as scheduled, to the winner’s designated beneficiary or to the winner’s estate.
You do not have to be a citizen of the United States to purchase Colorado Lottery tickets. The only difference is you will be taxed at a higher rate than citizens. Non-citizens are taxed at 34% (30% Federal; 4% State).
We suspect that you tried to cash your ticket during one of our draw breaks. We suspend the selling and cashing of jackpot tickets on the nights of our drawings in order to rebalance our system.
For Powerball, tickets cannot be sold or validated on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 7:30 p.m. and 7:33 p.m. In addition, tickets cannot be validated until after the drawing at 9:00 p.m.
For Mega Millions, tickets cannot be sold or validated on Tuesdays and Fridays between 7:30 p.m. and 7:33 p.m. In addition, tickets cannot be validated until after the drawing at 9:00 p.m.
For Lucky for Life, tickets cannot be sold or validated on Mondays and Thursdays between 7:30 p.m and 7:33 p.m. In addition, tickets cannot be validated until after the drawing at 9:00 p.m.
For Lotto, tickets cannot be sold or validated Wednesdays and Saturdays between 7:30 p.m. and 7:33 p.m.
For Cash 5, tickets cannot be sold or validated Monday through Sunday between 7:30 p.m. and 7:33 p.m.
For Pick 3, tickets cannot be sold or validated seven days a week between the following times: 1:30 p.m. and 1:33 p.m. for mid day drawing and between 7:30 p.m. and 7:33 p.m. for evening drawing.
For Scratch, tickets cannot be sold or validated Monday through Saturday between 12 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. and on Sunday between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m.
We suggest cashing your ticket outside of these time periods to avoid any problems. If you did have problems cashing a ticket and it wasn’t during a draw break, let us know, and we’ll investigate the problem.
To claim a prize for $600 or more from out of state, complete our claim form and the back of your winning ticket including your signature and mail to Colorado Lottery, Claims, P.O. BOX 7, Pueblo, CO 81002-0007. To claim a prize less than $600, just mail in your completed and signed ticket. It usually takes three business days from receipt to process claims filed by mail. Please allow at least two weeks for postal delivery. To check the status of your claim, call 1-800-999-2959 and ask for the Claims department.
You can get the Colorado Lottery app from the Apple Store or from Google Play depending on your mobile device. Search for Colorado Lottery and follow the instructions to download onto your device. The Colorado Lottery app is free!
No. The app works on the most popular devices and the most recent releases of mobile operating systems. It works best on iOS (iPhones) 8 and later versions, and Android 4.4 and later versions.
Be sure that you have a strong internet connection on your mobile device in order to open the application and use its features. If you’ve forgotten your password, select the FORGOT PASSWORD link and it will be sent to the email address that you provided in your profile. Be sure to check your SPAM and/or TRASH folders for our correspondence.
There are a number of possible explanations why the scanner isn’t working for you.
- For Scratch games, be sure that you’re scanning the 2D barcode on the front of the Colorado Lottery Scratch ticket located beneath the scratch-off coating. The barcode on the back of the Scratch ticket will not work.
- For Jackpot games, be sure that you’re scanning the 2D barcode on the TOP of the Colorado Jackpot game ticket. The barcode on the bottom of the Jackpot ticket will not work.
- You must give the app permission to access your camera. Go to your settings, then App management, pull up the Colorado Lottery mobile app and make sure that the camera is turned on.
- You must have a strong internet connection. Try using both a direct connection and Wi-Fi connection to see which performs better for you.
- You must have a good quality camera on your mobile device.
- The app works on the most popular devices and the most recent releases of mobile operating systems. It works best on iOS (iPhones) 6.1 and later versions, and Android 4.4 and later versions. If you have an older device, it will not work efficiently.
- Be sure you have sufficient lighting.
- Try removing the mobile app from your device and then re-downloading it.
EZ Match is an instant win add-on game for Cash 5, and as such, the mobile application will not give you its winning status. At retail, after purchasing a Cash 5 EZ Match ticket, if it is a winner, the terminal will play a jingle. You have the option of cashing in the EZ Match portion at the retailer and getting an exchange ticket for the Cash 5 draw that evening.
If the app tells you that your ticket is a winner, take it to your nearest retailer that sells Colorado Lottery games. They will be able to verify that the ticket is a winner, will be able to cash it up to $599 or less (depending on store policy), and if it is more than $599, you will be directed to claim at a Lottery Claim Center. In all cases, the Lottery game terminals take precedence in the determination on whether a ticket is a winner or not.
The mobile app does not validate winnings but it will tell you that the “ticket may be a winner.” Lottery Security has deemed that the validation of winners must occur within a Lottery retailer or Claims Center on the gaming system, only. You can self-validate after scanning a ticket and being told that it may be a winner by manually inputting the numbers into the Jackpot – Check Your Numbers area for the game you scanned, and it will tell you what you would have won if you played. Again, final confirmation must come from the systems terminal located at Lottery retailers.
The integrity of the app is very important to the Colorado Lottery. We will conduct an immediate investigation to ensure that it is working properly. We appreciate you bringing this issue to our attention. In all cases, the Lottery in-store game terminals will take precedence in the determination on whether a ticket is a winner or not.
You can only enter Bonus Draws using the mobile application when you are signed in to your MyLottery account. The app will enter you automatically into Bonus Draw for games that are eligible. Check each Rule for each Bonus Draw for specific eligibility requirements.
Many, but not all, retailers will retain the Jackpot tickets that they pay out to customers for accounting purposes. The Lottery has no control regarding this process so it is the responsibility of the player to be sure to enter Bonus Draws before cashing out winning tickets at a retailer. Players do not have to retain the Jackpot game ticket in order to claim a Bonus Draw prize when their ticket is drawn as a winner.
You can sign up to receive notifications delivered directly to your mobile device for the following:
- When new Scratch games are released.
- When Bonus Draws are announced.
- When a Bonus Draw entry deadline is approaching.
- Notifications about games, contests, promotions and local events.
- Winning numbers for Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Lucky for Life, Cash 5 and Pick 3.
- Notifications when your favorite numbers have been drawn.
- Jackpot alerts set at amounts you choose to remind you to play.
- Reminders to play on draw days, every other Friday or the 1 st and 15 th of each month.
- Scratch entry summaries every Friday.
- Bonus Draw winner announcements.
To sign up for these notifications, do the following:
- Be sure that your phone settings are set to enable push notifications on your device.
- Sign in to your MyLottery account (or create one if you don’t have one)
- Select from the top navigation the NOTIFICATIONS tab.
Tap on what interests you most. The option will open and you can choose from app notifications (push), emails and text messaging.
The app’s retailer locator relies on information pulled from Google or Apple Maps. It takes awhile to load the first time that it is used. Be sure to put a zip code in the search field and press GO and be sure that you have a strong internet connection. Check your phone settings to ensure that you have Location Services enabled for this application.
In order to function, it is necessary for the app to utilize the functions of your specific mobile device. Here are some examples of how the apps work directly with your device.
- Location. The app includes a retailer map locator. In order for this to function properly it needs to coordinate with the GPS installed on your particular mobile device.
- Camera. The app interfaces directly with the camera functions of your phone in order to scan tickets. Each device is different, so we have to develop programming to interface with specific devices to make it work.
- Device ID and Call Information. As a security measure, we access your device ID to validate drawing entries and it enables us to be alerted of potential hacks.
You can view your current Bonus Draw entries (for drawings that haven’t yet occurred) using the mobile app by signing in to your MyLottery account and selecting Bonus Draws. For past entries and drawings that have expired, you must sign in to your MyLottery account at coloradolottery.com.
Scratch Bonus Draws give you a second chance to win. Only non-winning Scratch tickets are eligible for entry based on each Bonus Draw’s requirements.
There is a wide variety of Scratch Bonus Draws available so be sure to check often. Simply locate the 22-digit number under the scratch-off coating and enter it into the Lottery’s website or scan the 2D barcode underneath the scratch-off coating on the ticket using the Colorado Lottery’s mobile app (you must be signed into your MyLottery account to scan and enter using the mobile app).
See a complete list of Bonus Draws for more information.
Remove the scratch-off coating completely on the front of your ticket. The 22-digit number “floats” in the play area between the top of the ticket and the bottom of the ticket, but should be revealed once you have scratched the whole ticket. If you scratch the whole ticket and still don’t find a number, you can bring your ticket to our office and we will research further.
If you are receiving an “Invalid Ticket Entry” message when trying to enter a Scratch Bonus Draw:
- Ensure that the Scratch ticket that you are entering is not a winning ticket.
- Verify that there is an open drawing associated with the ticket you are attempting to enter. Some Scratch games don’t have Bonus Draws associated with them or the drawing has expired. https://www.coloradolottery.com/en/games/scratch/drawings/
- Verify that all 22-digits are entered correctly into the ticket number field. There may be a small amount of scratch-off material obscuring some of the digits resulting in a mistake (i.e.: an “8” might look like a “0” — or a “7” might look like a “1.”)
If these steps don’t resolve the problem, let us know you have performed them and we’ll research the issue. Thank you for participating in Scratch Bonus Draws and good luck!
The Lottery has two different types of Scratch Bonus Draws: Top Prize and Promotional. Top Prize Bonus Draws are held after all of the instant top prizes have been claimed or a game is reasonably considered sold-out. Promotional drawings occur at any time after a game has launched. Prizes include cash for an amount less than the top instant prize, merchandise, or entertainment packages. We continue to sell Scratch games after promotional drawings because there are often many instant top prizes still left in the game.
The best way to keep track of when our drawings occur is to check our website: https://www.coloradolottery.com/en/games/scratch/drawings/
Jackpot Bonus Draws offer MyLottery members another way to win playing Jackpot games. Check the top of your Jackpot game ticket to see if there is a Bonus Draw that your ticket may be eligible to enter.
To enter Jackpot Bonus Draws, you need to have an active MyLottery account. You can only enter Jackpot Bonus Draws using the Colorado Lottery’s mobile app that can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play.
Scan the 2D barcode on the top of the Jackpot game ticket (not the bottom barcode).
Please be sure to read the rules and guidelines for the drawings you enter at www.coloradolottery.com.
Winning and non-winning tickets that meet the requirements of Jackpot Bonus Draws are eligible for entry.
See a complete list of Bonus Draws for more information.
To download the Colorado Lottery’s mobile app, visit the App Store or Google Play.
You must be signed in to your MyLottery account to use the mobile application and scan function to enter Jackpot Bonus Draws. Be sure that you are scanning the 2D barcode that is located AT THE TOP of the Jackpot game ticket (and not the one on the bottom of the ticket). If the ticket meets the eligibility requirements of the Bonus Draw, the app should scan the ticket and automatically enter it into the drawing.
If you are receiving an “Invalid Ticket Entry” message when trying to enter a Bonus Drawing verify that there is a Jackpot Bonus Draw associated with the ticket you are attempting to enter. A description of a Jackpot Bonus Draw is located at the top of the Jackpot ticket and full details are available on the website. (link)
NOTE: For various reasons, including issues with the Internet or the readability of a barcode, the Colorado Lottery has no liability for entries not submitted correctly or submissions not received by the database host.
Select the following link to see Bonus Draw winners (Game Tools-Who’s Winning) – be sure your search option is set to “Bonus Draws” and hit GO.
If you don’t see a winner posted, it usually means that they have yet to claim their prize. Winner Information is not posted until the prize is claimed.
Select the link below to see a list of games that have Bonus Draws and the entry dates for those drawings.
Each entry is assigned a unique ID. The Drawing Manager then uses a random number generator that uses the total number of entries as a parameter to select the drawing winner and alternates. The random numbers generated for the winning entry and alternates are then entered into the host database to retrieve a player’s contact information and then it is confirmed by comparing it to the information in the token database.
All of our drawings are public events. If you are interested in attending a drawing, please contact us at 1-800-999-2959.
You do not have to retain game tickets that you’ve entered into Bonus Draws. If your ticket is drawn as a winner, in order to claim your prize, you’ll need to provide us with identification to prove that you’re the person who entered the ticket.
If you’re a MyLottery member you have access to a Bonus Draw summary report. If you’re not a member, you don’t have access to this report so it’s important for you to print your confirmation after entering tickets each session.
If you’re a MyLottery member, sign in to your account and choose the “My Bonus Draw Entries” tab in the middle navigation of the website. (You can also get to this information using the Lottery’s mobile app.)
For Scratch Bonus Entries, if you do not see all of your entries, it’s possibly due to entering a Scratch Bonus Draw as a GUEST. Guests do not have access to a summary report. This also explains why some entries are showing on your summary report (those entered as a MyLottery member), and some do not (entered as Guest).
Rest assured that if you received a confirmation for your entries when you initially entered a drawing, we have them in our database. If you do not feel that you entered as a Guest, please contact us and we’ll research further.
For Jackpot Bonus Entries, for various reasons, including issues with the Internet or the readability of a barcode, the Colorado Lottery has no liability for entries not submitted correctly or submissions not received by the database host.
If you’re selected as a Bonus Draw winner, the Drawing Manager or designee will first attempt to contact you by telephone. If they are unable to reach you by phone, they’ll send you an email. If those attempts fail, they’ll send a certified letter to the address you have on the entry. Typically, we have five working days to make contact before moving on to an alternate winner. Once contacted, the winner has five working days to claim a Bonus Draw prize. These time frames may be extended at the discretion of the Drawing Manager.
Log onto MyLottery using your current user ID and password. This can be done from the MyLottery link on the very top of our website. After you log in you can click on the Notification Settings tab. That will take you to a personalized page that tells you what you are currently receiving and that will allow you to unsubscribe by clicking the “Unsubscribe from All Notifications” link, which can be found on the right side of the page.
Simply sign in to your MyLottery account using your email address and password using the mobile app or website and go to the Profile page. All information can be updated here, except for birthdate, which is hidden for your security.
Go to the MyLottery homepage by following this link:
At the bottom of the Log In box, you’ll see a link titled “Forgot Password.” Just click on that link and provide your email address, and we will send you instructions to create a new password.
When you receive your next text message, respond by texting “stop”, and that will take your phone off the mailing list. Or log into your MyLottery account and update your profile to remove the option to receive messages to your phone.
Check your spam filters to ensure that emails from the Lottery aren’t being blocked from reaching you. Add MyLottery [ [email protected] ] to your “Safe Senders” list and to your address book. You should also scan your junk folders to see if Lottery emails might be ending up there. We do not send out spam. You must sign up to receive our emails. Every email contains a link that allows you to unsubscribe.
All profits from the sale of all Colorado Lottery products, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Colorado Lotto+, Lucky for Life, Cash 5, Pick 3 and Scratch are distributed to the Lottery’s proceeds recipients: Great Outdoors Colorado, Conservation Trust Fund and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (with spillover funds from GOCO going to the Building Excellent Schools Today [BEST] fund.). For examples of some of the projects funded, visit: https://www.coloradolottery.com/giving-back/
In 1992 Colorado’s citizens voted to commit Lottery proceeds to outdoor recreation, parks, trails, rivers, wildlife, and open space.
Yes. Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives 10% of the Lottery’s annual proceeds to distribute throughout their agency.
There are many ADA-accessible parks and trails that have been funded with Lottery proceeds. Check out https://trails.colorado.gov for a site near you.
Yes! If you are interested in having someone speak to your group about the Lottery, please email our Communications team at [email protected]
Unfortunately, no. The Lottery is a government agency, and we are not able to donate free items to many good causes such as yours. We do apologize. It is a rule that Lottery proceeds go to parks, trails, and the outdoors in Colorado. We have to make sure that any sponsored events or giveaways have a direct proceeds or Lottery retailer tie-in. As you can imagine, our inventory and budget is planned by the Department of Revenue in advance, and it is frequently audited. But we appreciate you thining of us.
The Colorado Lottery does not determine where the proceed funds go. As funds are allocated via different agencies and to different local entities, it is advised that interested citizens contact their local municipalities to learn about the process for requesting projects. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a local park, please contact your local parks and recreation department.
Visit the Colorado state website where you can find all job openings, including any open at the Lottery, as well as instructions to apply. If there are open jobs for the Lottery, they will be listed under the Department of Revenue.
Expired winning tickets are considered unclaimed prizes. Any unclaimed prize money goes to the distribution fund for the Colorado Lottery’s proceeds beneficiaries (Great Outdoors Colorado, the Conservation trust Fund, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife).
We do not offer an online or mail-in subscription service. We offer Advance Play through our retailers where you can play up to 26 draws for Powerball, Mega Millions and Lotto, and up to 91 draws for Cash 5 (13 weeks). Check the Advance Play box on the edge of your play slip. The retailer will ask you how many draws you’d like to play, and charge you accordingly. The same numbers will be played for all drawings purchased.
Colorado Lottery tickets can only legally be purchased at a Colorado Lottery sales terminal within the borders of Colorado. You can purchase Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky for Life tickets in any other lottery jurisdiction that sells these games. Any Internet lottery site that purports to sell Powerball tickets, or “shares” of Powerball tickets to purchasers or to run a “service” for you, is operating illegally. They are not authorized by the Multi-State Lottery Association or by any U.S. lottery. There are legal Internet sales of lottery tickets in some states or countries, but only within the borders of that state/country or by agreement between nations. The United States has no agreements with any other nation to allow lottery tickets sales across the national border.
The laws of Colorado prohibit the purchase of another state’s lottery ticket across state lines. Federal laws also make out-of-state lottery plays across a state line illegal. But note that you can legally travel to another state, buy a ticket, and bring it back to your home state. Most countries prohibit the purchase of lottery tickets across their border.
Losing a Lottery ticket is like losing cash. Protect yourself by signing the back of your ticket and filling in your address. Unless signed, anyone who has the ticket can file a claim. The Colorado Lottery is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.
No: this is a common scam. In Colorado, people who have won $599 or more must come to a Lottery office to claim their prize.
Here are three things that you should do upon receipt of these kinds of emails:
- Do not reply to these emails
- Delete them without opening them and
- Add the address to your junk mail listing
Remember, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep your bank account information and your mother’s maiden name secure. And you should never send money to these people.
Tickets can be purchased as gifts for people under 18 years-old, but not by minors themselves. Anyone under the age of 18 must have received the ticket as a gift to claim the prize.
The Lottery receives alerts from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI). These alerts include Amber (endangered missing), Developmentally Disabled, Medina (vehicle) and Senior Alerts. Upon receipt, communication is immediately sent to all Colorado Lottery retailers, statewide, and the alert is instantly displayed on all in-store Lottery video monitors.
Jackpocket is a courier service that allows players to upload money into an account that they can then use to order jackpot tickets. The Colorado Lottery has no affiliation with Jackpocket . The Lottery issued a retailer license to Winners Corner in Pueblo, which is the retailer that is used by Jackpocket to execute the purchase transactions of tickets ordered by players using the app.
$3.5 Billion invested in Colorado
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Get your questions answered about the Colorado Lottery, Jackpot and Scratch games, where the money goes, and how to claim winnings.