Illinois Lottery officials say that if an Illinois resident wins the Powerball jackpot, they won’t receive the prize money until there’s a state budget.
Earlier, the lottery said it would not pay prize money to anyone who won more than $25,000 during the budget stalemate, saying the Lottery and the Illinois Comptroller didn’t have the legislative authority to pay them.
Wednesday’s pot is the third biggest so far in 2015, hitting $301 million.
Illinois Lottery’s spokesman Stephen Rossi said that even though the Powerball is a multi-state game, if an Illinois resident wins, the winner won’t be paid until the state’s budget stalemate ends.
State law mandates the Illinois comptroller's office must make payouts larger than $25,000, but they said last month that their hands were tied.
“Without a budget, we can’t, by law, make any payments on an appropriated fund without a court order or consent decree or statutory continuing appropriation,” said Rich Carter, press secretary for Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger’s office.
Munger's office said Wendesday, in response to Powerball questions, that it only pays vouchers that are sent to them by the Lottery.
"We just pay the vouchers we are sent," Carter said. "The Lottery sends us a voucher when someone wins and once we receive it, we pay it."
There are only two drawings left before a change in Powerball rules will make it much harder to win big. After Sunday, the chances of winning the jackpot go down, but the size of smaller cash prizes goes up.
Powerball is increasing the number of white balls to 69 and dropping the number of red balls to 26. The odds of hitting the jackpot increase from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292 million.
The latest jackpot has been accumulating since Aug. 1 when a retiree from Southern California really brought home the bacon. Los Angeles resident Willie Nelson purchased the winning $110 million jackpot ticket at a local Choice Market grocery store while picking up some cured meat at the request of his wife.
In February, three tickets in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Texas matched all six numbers to win the $564.1 million jackpot, the fifth largest prize in U.S. history, and the third-largest Powerball.
The biggest Powerball jackpot ever was $590.5 million in May, 2013. That's still shy of the record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot drawn in March, 2012.