U.S. Powerball jackpot expected to hit $1B if nobody wins Saturday draw

DES MOINES, Iowa — With Powerball sales breaking previous records, the odds are growing that someone will win Saturday night's $800 million jackpot — but if no one matches all the numbers, the next drawing is expected to soar past $1 billion.

See Full Article

For this weekend's record drawing, about 65 per cent of the possible number combinations will have been bought, officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game, said Friday. That percentage could rise if the jackpot estimate is increased — but even lottery officials say they don't know what to expect.

"You can throw out the logic. You can throw out the statistics," said Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery. "We've never seen jackpots like this. It's a new experience for all of us."

Since Nov. 4, the Powerball jackpot has grown from its $40 million starting point as no one has won the jackpot. Grief is more certain what will happen if no one matches the numbers on five white balls and the one red Powerball this time.

"It will definitely go past $1 billion if we roll past this Saturday," he said.

This kind of huge jackpot was just what lottery officials hoped for last fall when they changed the odds of matching all the Powerball numbers, from about one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million. By making it harder to win a jackpot, the tougher odds made the ever-larger prizes inevitable.

The bigger prizes draw more players, who in turn make the jackpots even bigger.

So many people were buying Powerball tickets in Iowa that lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said some stores were running out of paper for tickets, leaving lottery workers scrambling to resupply the outlets.

The odds are a matter of statistics and probability, but they're facts that most players may not completely understand, said Ron Wasserstein, executive director of the Alexandria, Virginia-based American Statistical Association.

"Once you get numbers that size, it's hard for people to wrap their minds around them," Wasserstein said.

It's not like players ever had a great shot at winning a jackpot, but by lengthening the odds, he said, "you take odds that were really, really small before, and now they're nearly twice as small as they were before."

Players in Lincoln, Nebraska, said they don't expect to win, but most noted that eventually, someone will take home all that money.

Gary Diaz of Lincoln said he's bought one or two Powerball tickets every week since a group of his co-workers won a lottery jackpot in 2004.

"Ever since then, I go, hell, if it happened once, it's gotta happen again," Diaz said. "It's all by chance."

Bashir Rahman, a chef from Moscow, Idaho, who was traveling through Nebraska, said he decided to buy a couple tickets at a Casey's gas station in Lincoln, but he realizes it's a long, long shot.

"You buy more than two, you're just stupid," he said.

Wasserstein said he understands why so many people buy Powerball tickets, calling it a small price for a chance to dream of immense riches. But Wasserstein said he and his colleagues know too well the nearly impossible odds to plunk down even $2 for a ticket.

"I can assure you," he said, "there is no office pool for the lottery at the American Statistical Association."

Associated Press writer Anna Gronewold in Lincoln, Nebraska, contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Nature has flung her best': Aussies clean up after northeast cyclone

    World News CBC News
    Australia's army and emergency workers headed to areas of tropical Queensland state hardest hit by Cyclone Debbie on Wednesday, finding roads blocked by fallen trees, sugarcane fields flattened and widespread damage in coastal towns. No deaths were reported after Debbie tore a trail of destruction through Australia's northeast on Tuesday as a category four storm, one rung below the most dangerous wind speed level, before being gradually downgraded to a tropical low. Source
  • Environmental groups vowing to fight Trump climate actions

    World News CTV News
    CHICAGO -- Environmental groups are preparing to go to court to battle President Donald Trump's efforts to roll back his predecessor's plans to curb global warming. They've hired scores of new lawyers and have been raising money for months. Source
  • Expeditions to send huge trash bags to clean Mount Everest

    World News CTV News
    Tents are seen set up for climbers on the Khumbu Glacier, with Mount Khumbutse, centre, and Khumbu Icefall, right, seen in background, at Everest Base Camp in Nepal on Saturday, April 11, 2015. (AP / Tashi Sherpa) Source
  • Water emergency declared in Picton, Ont., due to leak from sunken barge

    Canada News CTV News
    PICTON, Ont. -- The mayor of Picton, Ont., has declared a water emergency as a precautionary measure and is asking residents to limit their water use because of contaminants leaking from a partially submerged barge. Source
  • Pair behind secret Planned Parenthood videos charged in California

    World News CBC News
    California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent. Source
  • Tornado chasers in Texas crash vehicles, 3 people killed

    World News CBC News
    Three storm chasers were killed when their vehicles collided at a rural crossroads during severe West Texas storms on Tuesday. The storms spawned multiple funnel clouds and an occasional tornado in open areas of West Texas on Tuesday afternoon. Source
  • Cyclone rips off roofs, flings boats onto land in Australia

    World News CTV News
    TOWNSVILLE, Australia - Residents of Australia's cyclone-battered tropical northeast emerged from their homes on Wednesday to find roofs lying in their yards, boats flung onto rocks and roads blocked by tangles of fallen trees and power lines, as emergency officials tried to reach communities cut off by the powerful storm. Source
  • Contaminants from sunken barge cause 'water emergency' in southeastern Ontario county

    Canada News CBC News
    Prince Edward County's mayor has declared a water emergency because of contaminants leaking from a partially sunken barge and is asking people on the Picton-Bloomfield drinking water system to limit their water usage. The county in southeastern Ontario said Tuesday night about 30 litres of an undetermined substance had leaked from the barge and had floated too close to a water intake pipe in Picton Bay, without actually going into the pipe. Source
  • Trump talks readiness to revive health bill as Senate looks to back away

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans and White House officials sounded ready to abandon efforts to repeal and replace the nation's health care law, at least for now, even as House Republicans - and the president himself - insisted Tuesday they were not ready to give up. Source
  • Woman suffered 'significant trauma that was not survivable' after falling down chute: Inquest

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    REGINA — A doctor says the injuries of a woman who died after falling 10 storeys through a Regina hotel’s laundry chute suggest she probably went down feet first, though he admits there’s a possibility she went backwards and head first. Source