AFP

NEW YORK

What would you do with a whopping $1.5 billion? That will be the question on many Americans’ lips Wednesday, when the draw is made for the largest lottery jackpot in US history.

Even after the taxman calls, the Powerball jackpot could make the lucky winner wealthier than the likes of football star Lionel Messi, Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer and US superstar Beyonce. You can choose to be paid the full jackpot in annual instalments for 29 years - or take $930 million as a one-off payment - before taxes.

Record sales have driven up the bonanza, as people dreaming of riches flocked across state lines and international borders to snap up tickets, but lottery officials are not ruling out the prospect of the jackpot rising even further. ‘The whole building’s putting in two bucks, so we’re all going to party down in the Caribbean and split the money,’ joked Mark Ferro, who works for a property management company, counting down the hours to the TV draw at 10:59 pm (0359 GMT Thursday).

‘I’m going to buy a nice big house on an island,’ said his colleague John, an engineer who did not want to give his second name. The rest? He’ll give away to friends, family and charity. The odds of winning are one in 292 million - so remote that you are 246 times more likely to be hit by lightning, according to The New York Times, but punters refuse to indulge the killjoy tone.