The Powerball jackpot has reached a staggering $1.3 billion, and the next much-anticipated drawing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, January 13.
The hugely popular game, organized by the Multi-State Lottery Association across 44 US states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, challenges players to come up with the winning combination of 6 numbers, each inscribed on a ball.
The first 5 are extracted from a total of 69 white balls, while the last one, known as the Powerball is similarly picked at random, out of a drum containing 26 red balls.
At the last drawing, which was held on Saturday, January 9, the set of numbers that would’ve guaranteed players the top prize was the following: 16, 19, 32, 34, 57, with 13 being the Powerball number.
Now, only time will tell if the lottery game’s upcoming edition will crown its newest winner. The last time the right combination was discovered was on November 4, 2015, and it corresponded to a $144.1 million prize.
Afterwards, the jackpot was set quite low, at just $40 million; however, 18 drawings have occurred so far and no one has managed to choose the correct numbers, which is why the prize has kept on climbing, until it reached its highest value ever reported in the history of the United States lottery.
The former Powerball record used to be of $656 million, a sum which was divided between 3 players on March 30, 2012. The largest individual prize ever since the game was launched back in April 1992 amounted to $590.5 million, and was obtained by a Florida woman on May 18, 2013.
It’s not that entirely surprising that it’s been so difficult for people to win the current grand prize, which is around double the previously mentioned sums, given the fact that the likelihood of being successful in this endeavor is of just 1 in 292.2 million.
The odds used to be slightly better up until October 4, 2015 (estimated at around 1 in 175 million), but from that point onward, the game was revamped, by decreasing the number of red Powerballs (from 35 to 26), while increasing the number of white balls (from 59 to 69).
Given the current odds, which seem almost impossible to beat, lottery officials have constantly increased the jackpot, also spurred by ticket sales, which have reached unprecedented values.
While a Powerball ticket costs a mere $2, customers have flocked to buy hundreds of millions of them: tickets amounting to $277 million were purchased solely on Friday, January 8.
In fact, as estimated by Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery Commission, daily sales may have reached $400 million on Saturday, as more people were attracted to the ever-growing jackpot.
While a $1.3 billion prize seems sensational, this isn’t however the biggest sum promised by a national lottery. That honor goes out to Spain’s Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad (Christmas Lottery), whose El Gordo winnings amount to $2.4 billion, although in that case the prize is usually spread out across several lucky people.
Those wishing to nab the top prize at the Powerball instead can adopt various strategies in order to boost their chances of winning.
One such recommendation, issued by Scott Norris, assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, is to rely on Quick Picks, the computer program which randomly chooses a set of numbers.
Apparently, around 70% of those who have won the Powerball jackpot before managed to do so thanks to this software, instead of relying on birthdays and another numbers that hold special significance to them.
If somebody does indeed manage to win on Wednesday, the prize will be handed out as a $806 cash sum, after tax is deducted.
Alternatively, the $1.3 billion earnings could be divided into 30 annual payments, spread out across the following 29 years, so that the winner can be protected from spending this huge rainfall straight away.
Image Source: Flickr