What the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot can buy you

  • Art Konovalov/iStockphoto

    By David Schepp

    The odds of winning the growing Powerball jackpot -- around 300 million to 1 -- are infinitesimal, but that hasn't stopped hordes of Americans from buying tickets and pushing the prize up to $1.5 billion.

    That mind-boggling amount does make the mind dance. Just what would you do with all that money? Quit your dead-end, or even tolerably decent, job? Buy a new house? Buy a new car -- a fleet of new cars? Travel the world? The options are endless.

    First, a small reality check: Should you win, you won't, of course, get all $1.5 billion. Taking the cash option rather than an annuity, advisable for anyone over age 35, leaves you with $930 million before taxes. Next, Uncle Sam will take a chunk -- 39.6 percent to be precise, the rate at which big jackpots are taxed -- costing you roughly $368 million, reducing your haul to $562 million. And don't forget state and local income taxes, should they apply.

    In most states, tax rates on high-income individuals range from 5 to 10 percent. Using the 7.5 percent median, state income tax would lop off another $42 million, leaving you with a still tidy $520 million.

    What could you buy with all that cash? Here are some suggestions.