TORONTO – Americans’ dreams of claiming a $550 million lottery jackpot have seeped into Canada.
Those with homes hugging the United States border are making road trips south to try their luck at winning the country’s second-largest jackpot in history: the $550 million up for grabs in the Powerball lottery.
By 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, ticket holders will be crossing their fingers, hoping their six numbers take the gargantuan prize. There hasn’t been a Powerball prize winner since Oct. 6, which is why the jackpot has increased so steadily.
Arlen Harris, Powerball’s Washington state spokesman, says Canadians are making trips into the country to test their luck.
“I know there are three stores in Blaine, Washington, just south of the Peace Arch border crossing – so just south of Vancouver – that are doing very well from B.C. residents over the past couple of days.
“They’re absolutely allowed to win,” Harris said.
Sarah Kiriliuk, spokeswoman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, says she knows Canadians love to take part in U.S. lotteries, too.
Both officials say they’re unsure if Canadians have ever claimed the big jackpot, though.
Instead, they’ve pocketed handfuls of small wins.
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“If you legally purchase a Powerball ticket, you can play the game and you can collect prizes. You do not have to be a citizen or a resident to play the game. You can be a tourist,” the official Powerball website explains.
If you’re holding the winning ticket, you have to return to the state of purchase’s headquarters, prove your age and identity and the winnings are yours.
Kiriliuk says that Powerball is similar to Lotto Max or Lotto 649 in Canada, in that they are all nationwide lotteries.
Oftentimes, Albertans and even Quebecers have won Ontario’s lottery prizes as well. The biggest win in Canadian history is $54.2 million in 2005, the haul awarded to a group of Western Canadian employees.
While the winnings are taxed in the United States – the percentage is determined on a state-by-state basis – Canadians’ jackpot winnings within our country are untouched, Kiriliuk warns.
Harris says that in Washington, winnings face a 25 per cent tax, but that wouldn’t necessarily apply to Canadians.
He suggests that if a Canadian were to win an American lottery, they’d declare this income on their annual income statement.
These rules would vary from state to state, though.
Powerball has swept the United States as residents feeling lucky are buying a number of tickets in an attempt to better their odds. They’re sold at $2 apiece.
Harris said that on Tuesday alone, 58 million tickets were sold across the country, two million in Washington.
The lottery closes Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.
The U.S.’ largest prize was a Mega Millions jackpot of $656 million last March.