Powerball jackpot lures Albertans to snap up tickets

Fame and fortune (but mostly fortune) are luring Albertans across the border this week to snap up Powerball lottery tickets.

It's the biggest lotto prize in its history at $1.5B US

The massive U.S. powerball lottery prize will be drawn at 8:59 M.T. on Jan. 13, 2016. (Don Campbell/Herald-Palladium/AP)

Fame and fortune (but mostly fortune) are luring some Albertans across the border this week to snap up Powerball lottery tickets.

"You're not going to win if you don't have a ticket, right?" said Dylan Ireland, who drove from Medicine Hat to Havre, Mont., on Tuesday to buy several hundred dollars worth of tickets.

"It's only an hour and a half away, so we just thought we'd make a day trip out of it and have our chance at $1.5 billion US."

And he's not alone.

Lana Herman, the manager at the Gallery Lounge in Havre, says she's meeting a lot of Canadians this week.

"They just say they need a lot of them and they have money from friends that couldn't get down here and they're busy buying them for them."

Herman says she's also hearing a lot of grumblings about the size of the prize.

"It's a lot of money. I mean, that would just ruin somebody's life," she said. "A lot people think it's way too high and it should be divided up way more and quite a few winners."

It's legal for Canadians to buy powerball tickets and bring them back to Canada, but you will be breaking American federal law if you try bringing the ticket back into the U.S. to claim your prize. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Canadians beware 

It's the biggest jackpot in history and Canadians are eligible to win.

But if a Canuck does happen to beat the one in 292 million odds tonight — the winner could run into some problems.

It's legal to purchase powerball tickets in the U.S. and take them back to Canada. But according to a spokesperson with the Montana Lottery, when you cross the American border to claim our prize, there's a chance your golden ticket could get confiscated.

That's because U.S. federal law prohibits you from bringing purchased tickets back into the United States.

And another catch? Uncle Sam takes a cut of your winnings.

Those with a U.S. Social Security or tax ID number pay 25 per cent off the top. For Canadians, that figure increases to 28 per cent. 

However lottery winnings — even those from another country — are not treated as taxable income in Canada.

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