Powerball jackpot nearing record amount: How much money is $1.5 billion?

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(NEXSTAR) – After 39 consecutive drawings without a top prize winner, the Powerball jackpot has reached an estimated $1.5 billion. While that is unquestionably a lot of money, it’s a sum that many of us might have a hard time conceptualizing, in terms of both its size and buying power.

If you stacked $1.5 billion in $100 bills, it would reach a height of nearly 5,375 feet tall — or over a mile. (A $100 bill is .0043 inches thick, and a stack of 10,000 $100 bills is 3.5833 feet tall, according to Powerball.)

Feeling exhausted by all those numbers? Maybe you need a pick-me-up, such as a nice Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks.

Let’s say you order a grande Peppermint Mocha, which just returned to the menu ahead of the holidays. That’ll cost you $5.75 before tax. If you had $1.5 billion, you could purchase 260,869,565 Peppermint Mochas and still have some change left over.

A billionaire can’t survive on coffee alone, of course. How about stopping at McDonald’s for a McRib, which is said to be on its farewell tour? A McRib meal, before tax, comes to $7.99. With $1.5 billion, you could order 187,734,668 McRib meals. If you wanted to pace yourself and use your $1.5 billion to buy only one McRib meal every day, it would take you roughly 514,000 years to spend it all.

Or, you could take that money and buy your way into the world of professional sports.

For example, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, cost around $1.5 billion to build, according to the Associated Press. And former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and e-commerce mogul Marc Lore recently purchased the Minnesota Timberwolves for around $1.5 billion, ESPN reports.

Unfortunately, the eventual winner of the Powerball jackpot won’t actually pocket $1.5 billion right away. The lucky ticketholder can receive their winnings as an annuity (30 graduated payments over 29 years) or as a lump sum. According to Powerball, the current jackpot has a cash value of $745.9 million.

Regardless of how you receive the prize, you’ll also be paying state and local taxes on the income.

You may also want to think twice before collecting the cash option. Winners of giant jackpots nearly always take the cash, and financial advisers say that might be a mistake.

The gulf between the cash and annuity options has become larger because inflation has prompted a rise in interest rates, which in turn results in potentially larger investment gains. With annuities, the jackpot cash is essentially invested and then paid out to winners over three decades. Under the annuity plan, winners will receive an immediate payment and then 29 annual payments that rise by 5% each year until finally reaching the total.

Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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