The largest lottery jackpot in the world, which has kept millions of hopeful Americans buying tickets for weeks, will likely be won soon.
Nearly 86% of all possible Powerball combinations have been played so far, hours before Wednesday night’s drawing, according to Texas Lottery Commission spokeswoman Kelly Cripe. That means one lucky person is close to taking home the $1.5 billion jackpot, but so much is still in the air.
“It’s just hard to say because the game is random,” Cripe told TIME on Wednesday. “There have been winners when coverage has been lower. That’s all part of the excitement.”
There are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. The odds stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot gets or how many people buy tickets. However, the more players buy tickets, the more combinations are played and there's a bigger chance that someone will pick the winning set of numbers to take home the loot, experts say.
“That window is going to narrow as players buy more tickets,” said Jeff Holyfield, a spokesman for the Michigan Lottery. “The stack of unpurchased numbers is going to get smaller and smaller, but there will still be some there. Who knows what will happen? You never know what those bouncing balls will do. You can never rule out that this could rollover."
Wednesday’s world record jackpot is the result of 20 drawings with no jackpot winner since it started at $40 million in November. If no winner is drawn Wednesday, Saturday’s jackpot will be an estimated $2 billion with a cash value of $1.24 billion, lottery officials said.
Lottery officials made it harder for players to win the jackpot in October when they changed Powerball game metrics to increase players’ chances of winning smaller cash prizes.