The Powerball lottery jackpot has reached world record breaking heights of $1.9 billion as of this post. The $1.9 billion is the value of the jackpot if paid to the winner in the form of a 30-year annuity. The actual jackpot amount is a lump sum payment of $929.1 million (before taxes). Just what are the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot?
After looking at the fine print, each ticket has a 1 in 292,201,338 chance of winning the jackpot prize. Based on the drawing results for the $1.6 billion jackpot held on November 5, 2022 we can extrapolate the total number of tickets sold as being 271.4 million. There were 10.9 million tickets sold that won a prize of some kind and Powerball has odds of winning any prize of 24.9. Approximately 271.4 million tickets were sold and that made the likelihood of a jackpot winning ticket being sold as 93%! So, the fact that nobody won the jackpot was only a 7% chance given the volume of ticket sales.
Interestingly, had someone purchased every single combination of Powerball tickets for the previous drawing, they would have come out with an enormous profit!
What If You Had Bought Every Powerball Ticket Combination?
$1.6 billion jackpot = $782.4 million lump sum
Cost to purchase all 292,201,338 ticket combinations is $584,402,676. You’d need deep pockets to make this happen and you’d be filling out A LOT of betting slips too.
You’ll also win a lot of other prizes along with the jackpot. In fact, you would win the $1 million prize for matching all 5 white balls 25 times. That’s $25 million extra dollars in winnings there. That’s because there are 26 red Powerball numbers and if you bought every combination of numbers, you’d have 25 tickets that have all the white numbers but not the correct red ball number!
In addition to the jackpot, you’d also win 320 $50,000 prizes, 28,158 $100 prizes, 920,036 $7 prizes, and 10,668,443 $4 prizes. Let’s add it all up and we get total prize winnings of: $850,329,824.
Now we get to deduct all of our losing tickets from that total before paying our taxes (pretty cool, right?). We would have approximately 280,584,380 ($561,168,760) losers which would bring our net taxable winnings to: $289,161,064. After Uncle Sam takes his 37% cut we are left with $182,171,470!
So there you have it, if you’d bought every single ticket combination in November 5th’s $1.6 billion Powerball you’d have made a profit of more than $182,171,470! The reason the profit would have been more than this is because the lottery jackpot would have been significantly increased by your own purchase of over $580 million worth of tickets! Powerball states that 34% of each ticket sold goes directly to increasing the jackpot amount so that would cause an additional $190 million to be added to the pre-tax lump sum jackpot in this scenario – increasing our after-tax winnings to over $301 million.
$301 million after-tax winnings!
But, there’s a catch. This only works if nobody else matches the jackpot numbers since you’d have to split the prize with them. But, since hindsight is 20/20, if someone did this with the last drawing they would have profited handsomely.
What Are the Odds?
Since nobody is likely able to buy all of the ticket combinations either due to insufficient funds or inability to physically produce them all before the drawing takes place, we are stuck with the typical probabilities. Speaking of long shot probabilities, here’s a sampling of the odds of various things happening to you that are more likely than winning the Powerball:
Flipping a coin and landing on heads 27 times in a row: 1 in 134,217,728
Getting killed by a vending machine: 1 in 112 million
Rolling 10 consecutive 7’s with two dice: 1 in 60,466,176
Dying from choking on food: 1 in 2,745
Dying in an auto accident in the US: 1 in 101
As you can see, the odds of winning the Powerball are astronomical compared to things we take for granted in our daily life. But, sometimes a bit of wishful thinking and daydreaming about what you could do with hundreds of millions of dollars is worth throwing down a few bucks on the chance.