- The nationwide Powerball Lottery Jackpot now stands at $550 million. The odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.
- Powerball games are available in 44 US states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- The next Powerball drawing will take place on Wednesday night at 10:59 PM Eastern.
With no winning tickets sold last Saturday night the current Powerball lottery jackpot has grown to an estimated $550 million US. It will be the 8th largest Powerball jackpot on record and the 10th largest of any US lottery. There were two ‘consolation prize’ tickets worth $1 million each sold but no ticket matched the six numbers drawn on Saturday night. The Powerball jackpot was last hit in the December 26, 2018 drawing. Last Saturday’s drawing was the 23 consecutive without a jackpot winner.
Curiously, the overall tone of the mainstream media coverage of the Powerball jackpot would suggest that the 23 consecutive drawings without a winner is completely unprecedented. Not really. The ‘true odds’ of hitting the jackpot are easy to figure with the five white balls combining to form 11,238,513 possible combinations. Add the 26 ‘Powerball’ numbers and you’ve got 292,201,338 possible combinations. That means you’ve got a 1 in 292 million shot at winning the jackpot. The aforementioned $1 million ‘consolation prize’ offers odds that look reasonable by comparison at 1 in 11,688,053.
THE ODDS AGAINST WINNING A POWERBALL JACKPOT ARE MIND BOGGLING
Late last week I did an article discussing just how incredibly safe it is to fly on a commercial airline in light of the hysterical response of politicians and the media about the Boeing 737-MAX. The probability of dying in a crash considers a number of variables–route, airline, aircraft, weather and crew experience among others. At best, you’ve got a 1 in 20 million chance of dying in a crash. At worst, you’re talking 1 in 5 million. Most aviation experts throw around an ‘average’ probability of 1 in 11 million. Your odds of a fatal crash while a driver or passenger in a car is roughly 1 in 110. Even so, you don’t hear the masses freaking out over the danger of car travel. That’s because the genetic wiring of humans makes it more difficult for them to conceptualize the difference between an extremely unlikely occurrence and one that is far more realistic. The term for this is ‘risk perception’ and humans aren’t very good at it.
The public excitement over a big lottery jackpot is a by-product of this phenomenon. Most people have certainly heard the 1 in 292 million odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot yet they wait in line–sometimes traveling to a neighboring state if necessary–just to buy tickets. Whenever there’s a big lottery jackpot I like to put the astronomical odds against winning in context against other highly unlikely eventualities like dying of a flesh eating virus (1 in 1 million) or being mauled to death by bears (1 in 2.1 million) Since I just compiled a chart to put the safety of commercial air travel into context I can enlist it here:
Odds of being killed
|by the flu||1 in 70|
|in a car accident||1 in 111|
|by accidental gunshot||1 in 8,359|
|by a tornado||1 in 60,000|
|by a bee sting||1 in 79,842|
|by an earthquake||1 in 110,000|
|by drowning in your bathtub||1 in 840,000|
|by a flesh eating bacteria||1 in 1 million|
|by an asteroid||1 in 1.9 million|
|by a shark attack||1 in 3.7 million|
Another way of looking at it–you’re nearly 300 times more likely to get mauled to death by bears than you are to win the lottery. For a previous lottery jackpot I chained together a series of unlikely events: you’re statistically much more likely to be stuck by lightning in the morning, bitten by a shark at lunch and hit by a meteor before dinner while hitting a golf hole in one in the afternoon than you are to winning the Powerball jackpot.
Here’s some betting odds on the Wednesday night Powerball drawing. Based on my numbers, there’s likely a 50/50 chance that there will not be a winner and the big jackpot will roll over to Saturday night. Should that happen look for updated odds and more discussion of the lottery and the math that underpins it later this week:
POWERBALL LOTTERY JACKPOT BETTING ODDS
WILL A JACKPOT WINNING POWERBALL TICKET BE DRAWN ON WEDNESDAY?
HOW MANY JACKPOT WINNING POWERBALL TICKETS WILL BE DRAWN ON WEDNESDAY?
4 or more +1500
TOTAL NUMBER OF TICKETS SOLD FOR WEDNESDAY’S POWERBALL DRAWING?
Over 100 million -170
Under 100 million +150
Per Lotto Report website
WILL ANY WINNER (OR WINNERS) CHOOSE THE ANNUITY PAYMENT OVER THE LUMP SUM AMOUNT?