MONEY gambling

$1 Billion Powerball Jackpot Is Coming

person grabbing powerball ticket
Scott Olson—Getty Images

At same time, the odds of winning are worse than ever.

Earlier this week, the New York Gaming Commission, which is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, announced it was tweaking the odds of winning the lottery to raise more revenues. But don’t get excited: Your chances of winning aren’t getting better.

Precisely, the odds of winning Powerball, which are now 1 in 175,223,510, are shooting up to 1 in 292,201,338. So your chances of hitting it big in the lottery, which are already far less likely than getting killed by a shark or struck by lightning, are about to get much worse.

While there is arguably nothing positive about the lottery before or after the changes are instituted, the big brains at FiveThirtyEight point out that there is somewhat of a silver lining to the news that the odds of winning are getting worse.

Assuming that all of the states that participate in Powerball get on board with the changes, sooner or later some luckier-than-ever winner stands to win an epically huge chunk of cash. “The chances of a Powerball win making some future player a billionaire are radically higher. Like, 7.5 times as high,” FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey explains.

Basically, a $1 billion jackpot is likely to happen in part because the likelihood of anyone winning an individual Powerball is decreasing. The longer that no one wins, the bigger the pot gets. What’s more, as the pot grows, the number of tickets sold grows as well, which in turn increases the pace of the pot’s rise.

Hickey ran simulations of five years of play comparing the old and new odds. With the old odds, only 8.5% of the five-year simulations wound up with a $1 billion Powerball jackpot. However, under the new scenario, in which the odds of anyone winning are worse and the pot will therefore rise and rise, a $1 billion jackpot appeared in nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of the simulated five-year periods.

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