Feedback
News

World's Largest Jackpot: Key Numbers About Giant Powerball Drawing

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?

Here's a rundown of some key figures — we'll even give you some lucky numbers at the end — connected to the drawing:

Powerball jackpot reaches $1.3 billion - and it could go up 3:14
JACKPOT

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."

Image: A light sign could not fit the record highest power ball payout at a local liquor store in Washington
A light sign could not fit the record highest power ball payout at a local liquor store in Washington, January 10, 2016. YURI GRIPAS / Reuters

Spain's latest elGordo lottery, or "The Fat One," once had a prize pool of $2.4 billion prize — but that was awarded to thousands of ticketholders, elGordo's website said. Powerball's riches could go to a single ticketholder.

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.

Related: What to Do If You Win the Powerball Jackpot

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.

BUYING TICKETS

A regular ticket costs $2 — about the same as a gallon of gas.

LUCKY NUMBERS

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!