The current Powerball jackpot is over $900 million, far surpassing the record for the biggest jackpot in U.S. history.
The previous Powerball jumped in money after nobody won the jackpot on Wednesday night, which was the 18th straight drawing without a winner dating all the way back to November 7. The previous jackpot record was a MegaMillions game in 2012 worth $656 million. The Powerball is sold in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
So you’re playing for that ginormous payday and you obviously think you’ll win because you bought 27 tickets, but don’t plan on telling your boss to “Go fuck himself sideways” and pick out your very own island in paradise just yet because the odds are definitely not in your favor.
To win the $900 million bonanza you will need to match all five white ball numbers and the red Powerball number. Sounds easy enough right? Well not exactly because you have a 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning, approximately the same chances of flipping a quarter and getting heads 28 times in a row.
“The probability is so small, dare say impossible,” said Jeffrey Miecznikowski, associate professor of biostatistics at the University at Buffalo. “It’s like trying to count electrons or drops of water in the ocean or grains of sand in the world. We just can’t imagine these types of things.”
You will increase your chances by purchasing additional tickets, but you need to understand that the odds are so insurmountable to begin with that even buying a hundred PowerBall tickets means you still have overwhelming odds of not winning.
Your odds increase with additional tickets, but it’s important to keep in mind how small they are to begin with. If you have a 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning with one ticket, you have 10 times the odds if you buy 10 tickets. Yet the probability is still incredibly small.
So how do you win all of the money? Forbes enlisted the help of Richard Lustig, a man who has won seven lottery grand prizes through a system he developed, to find out how to win the lottery.
Lustig is considered one of the luckiest people in the nation and the author of Learn How To Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.
Through trial and error, he has perfected his strategy on how to win the lottery. Every time something worked, he’d write it down. Eventually, he devised a “formula” and he shared some of his tips with Forbes:
- Don’t use the “quick-pick” numbers generated from the store’s computer.
- Go beyond the birthdays.
- Pick a set of numbers and don’t change them.
- Play consistently.
- Understand the odds, but know your limits and only play as much as you can afford to lose.
Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, agrees and disagrees with Lustig. He suggests letting the computer pick the numbers rather than choosing yourself. The math nerd agrees with Lustig that people use birthdates or other favorite figures too often, which limits your numbers from months (1-12) or days of the month (1-31). This ignores the fact that there are 69 numbered balls.
Even by the miracle of the whichever God you subscribe to, there’s a good chance that there will be other winners, and thus then you shall be splitting that jackpot.
And don’t forget, that the federal, state and local governments always win the lottery because they tax prize money. So if a person wins, decides to take the lump sum (Which is a smaller payout than electing to receive annual payments for the next 30 years) and they are from New York City (Each state takes a different percentage of winnings, New York’s is the highest at 8.82 percent, plus New York City has a municipal tax of 3.9 percent), he or she will only get about $309 million. The government will withhold $186.97 million, nearly 40 percent.
Ugh. Only a measly $309 million? Why even bother?
The next drawing is on Saturday night. Good luck!