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Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/saintseminole

What the $1.5B Powerball jackpot could buy you in Chicago

Written by
Clayton Guse
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Wednesday night's $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot will be far and away the largest lottery payout in world history. For any Chicagoan who's living paycheck-to-paycheck, a sum that large is both laughable and mind-blowing. About half of the winnings will go straight to taxes, but we got to wondering what that $1.5 billion actually looks like in context. Here's a breakdown (in Chicago terms) of what winning the Powerball jackpot really means.

Split evenly, every Chicagoan would receive $551

That's enough to pay off a few red light camera tickets.

The city's pension crisis would be solved... until 2018

The city's obligation to the police and fire pension funds is $672 million this year and $727 million in 2017, so even a record-setting Powerball jackpot is just a drop in the bucket of fiscal irresponsibility.

22 Illinois gubernatorial elections

Governor Bruce Rauner spent $65.3 million on his campaign for the Governor's Mansion between March 2013 and November 2014, according to the Tribune. If he won the Powerball, he might be able to buy the whole legislature.

The entire Blackhawks organization

According to Forbes, the reigning Stanley Cup champions are worth $925 million, but don't expect 'ol Rocky Wirtz to sell the club any time soon.

15 million CTA monthly passes

That equates to 1.25 million years of CTA usage. Chicago will definitely be around then, right?

Build 15 new Bloomingdale Trails

The 606 cost just shy of $100 million to fund, and it's been worth every penny. With $1.5 billion, you could turn pretty much all of the city's defunct rail lines into gorgeous parks.

100 of Michael Jordan's houses

The former Bulls star has been trying to sell his Highland Park mansion for nearly four years. It's currently listed at $14.855 million, which is less than one percent of the Powerball jackpot.

Buy back the city's parking meters

In 2008, Mayor Richard M. Daley thought that the best way to get out of a budget hole was to sell off the rights to the city's parking meters to a private firm for 75 years in exchange for $1 billion up front. This might be a bad investment, though. In 75 years people won't be "driving cars" or "parking."

5.7 million dinners at Grace

A dinner at Grace with wine pairings will run you $260. You'd have to eat at the Michelin three-star restaurant five nights a week for more than 22,000 years before you spent $1.5 billion.

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