Sure, you may have scoffed at co-workers and gamblaholic family members before, but in the face of numbers like these, can you truly resist the lure of Powerball?
Wednesday’s drawing will be worth $1.3 billion, the largest in the world, said Texas Lottery official Kelly Cripe. It’s so big that many lottery signs aren’t able to even display the amount beyond “$999 million.”
ODDS OF WINNING
To put it gently, not good. The odds of any Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million. A ray of hope: Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, says your tiny odds improve a bit if you let the computer pick your numbers rather than choosing yourself.
POSSIBLE NUMBER COMBINATIONS
There are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. That’s where the odds come from, and they stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets.
LUMP SUM VS. LIFETIME PAYOUT
Once you beat the astronomical odds and win, you’ll get to choose between being paid $1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or one $806 million cash payment. Those figures are before federal and state taxes, which will eat up roughly half of the cash-option prize. Your best bet? Take the annuity to avoid the risk of overspending or an investment mishap, according to Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
STATES WHERE THE GAME IS PLAYED
Powerball is played in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
A regular ticket costs $2 — about the same as a gallon of gas.
OK, so no individual number has any greater chance of being pulled than another, although experts say that if you just stick to birthdays you are cheating yourself out of digits above 31. We like the numbers 36 and 27. Good luck!