The Powerball jackpot continues to grow and expected to climb to an estimated record of $1.3 billion. The next Powerball lottery drawing will be Wednesday after nobody matched the winning numbers on Saturday, according to The Florida Times-Union Jacksonville.
The odds of winning the largest jackpot prize in U.S. lottery history were 1 in 292.2 million. The odds of winning the Powerball are so small that it’s hard to conceptualize it.
“That just shows the total randomness of Powerball,” Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery, told NBC News’ Weekend Today on Sunday. “At our peak last night, we were selling more than $1.2 million in Powerball tickets every single minute.”
Roughly speaking, the chances of picking the right Powerball jackpot combination of numbers is like flipping a coin and getting heads 28 times in a row, according to Jeffrey Miecznikowski, an associate professor of biostatistics at the University at Buffalo in New York.
“It’s very unlikely,” said Miecznikowski, who doesn’t play Powerball jackpot himself. A person is more likely to get struck by lightning or bitten by a shark, but Miecznikowski says most people don’t know someone personally who has had either of those things happen. Picking all the winners in the 64-team NCAA basketball tournament is harder — much harder — than guessing the right Powerball numbers, he said.
It would be about 1 billion times harder to pick all the winning teams randomly, Miecznikowski said. It would still be 500 times more difficult to fill out a bracket by allowing some strategy, such as knowing that a No. 16 seed hasn’t beaten a No. 1 seed, he said.
Saturday’s winning numbers were 16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball number 13. Miecznikowski speculated that one reason for no winner might be the Powerball number 13, which players who chose their own numbers might have avoided as unlucky.
The latest Powerball jackpot estimate of $1.3 billion would be twice as large as the previous biggest U.S. lottery prize from March 30, 2012, when Mega Millions paid $656 million for three tickets from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The total would also more than double the $590.5 million that Powerball paid May 18, 2013, for one ticket in Florida.
While the $1.3 billion is by far the largest ever up for grabs in North America, Spain’s latest elGordo lottery, or “The Fat One,” had a prize pool of $2.4 billion prize. But it was awarded to thousands of ticketholders, elGordo’s website said. Powerball’s riches could go to a single ticketholder.
The huge jackpot is creating an unforeseen advertising problem in several states: many electronic billboards promoting the Powerball jackpot aren’t configured to display billion-dollar prizes, since the phrase “MILLION” is affixed to the signs, the director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency said.
That issue might have seemed unimaginable last summer as Powerball jackpot sales declined due to competition from casinos and instant scratch-off games — as well as a phenomenon industry insiders call “jackpot fatigue,” in which players ignore lotteries until the prize grows astronomically.
The whopping jackpot started out Nov. 4 at a mere $40 million. Drawing after drawing, there has been no winner — and the pot, which has rolled over 18 times, has swollen to eye-popping levels. A winner Saturday night would have been a record.
Winners of the top prize are paid in 30 annual installments or as a one-time, lump-sum payment. The lump sum for Wednesday’s drawing is estimated at $806 million.
The Powerball jackpot is played in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.