Powerball jackpot hype is approaching a fever pitch once again with the next drawing reaching an estimated $1.9 billion. As a result, players are lining up in front of lottery machines with hopes of buying a winning ticket.
But picking up the winning numbers is a long shot, and the odds are extremely low and stay the same as the jackpot keeps climbing. Still, experts have a few tips on how to play the game smartly.
One of them is Dr. Tim Chartier, the 2022-23 Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics at the National Museum of Mathematics. Here are the answers he provided to questions from International Business Times:
IBT: What are the odds of winning the Powerball?
Chartier: 1 in 292 million.
IBT: How unlikely is that? There are almost two billion dollars on the line.
Chartier: Flipping 28 heads in a row has about the same odds.
IBT: Does buying more tickets increase your odds?
Chartier: Yes. If you buy five tickets with different numbers, you are five times as likely to win. But remember, this is like saying you need to flip heads 28 straight times. Try it. Try it five times. Try it 100 times. You are amazingly unlikely to get it any single time. So, the odds are more likely but still very unlikely.
You are almost 300 times more likely to get hit by lightning in your lifetime than to win Powerball. If you bought 300 tickets, you would only have the same chances of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime.
IBT: Why aren’t we getting a winner?
Chartier: We will, which is the exciting part. But there is some math behind the growing jackpot.
First, people can pick numbers. For example, people may choose birthdays and ages, which makes lower numbers more common.
Second, while someone will win, it simply can take time, given how unlikely it is. The odds are made high enough to make the game compelling and get winners JUST common enough that we have hope in the improbable; frankly, it makes it fun.
IBT: What should we think about when the jackpot is this high?
Any time you play Powerball, the odds of winning stay the same, BUT there are ways that you can make it more probable that you win ALL the money. In particular, pick random numbers.
If you pick your favorite number or the day of your birthday, like the 7th, which is the day of the next drawing, many people can do the same, putting a lot of numbers between 1 and 31. Picking your numbers doesn’t change the odds of winning. But picking random numbers does increase the odds that if you win, no one else wins.