I play the lottery once in a blue moon – usually only when the prize gets to about $50,000,000. I figure if I’m going to waste a dollar on something this foolish, it ought to be for something big – something I can REALLY retire on in style without any regard for frugality. It seems that a lot of Powerball players are of the same mindset, and in reaction, Powerball is changing the rules. According to the South Carolina Education Lottery website, jackpots will now start at $15,000,000 instead of $10,000,000, and will increase more substantially each time the jackpot rolls over. If the prize money accrues faster, then those that play like I do will be more likely to plunk down their dollars, and do so more frequently.
Of course, with an increase in payout must come an increase in the odds against winning. Instead of drawing five balls with no chance of duplicates and a sixth "powerball" that can duplicate one of the five, drawings will have four balls drawn without duplicates, and two powerballs. I wonder if they will change the name, and what consequences that will have for a family-friendly ad campaign?
My higher math skills are a bit rusty, but what’s happening is that not one, but two of the balls are now based on factorials instead of permutations. The website phrases it thusly…
To increase the average jackpot size, two white ball numbers will be added, changing the jackpot odds to 1 in 146.1 million. The current game has jackpot odds of 1 in 120.5 million. The overall odds of winning a cash prize will remain virtually the same at 1 in 36.60 (up slightly from 1 in 36.06).
Notice that they use the word "million" instead of adding all the zeroes. The brain sees only the numbers, so it looks like the odds are only changing from 1 in 120.5 to 1 in 146.1. That’s also not too different from the overall 1 in 36.60 chance of winning any prize. I think I’ll bring it back to reality by adding the zeroes – that’s a 1 in 146,500,000 chance of winning.
Hey, I’ll probably still drop a buck or two every now and then.
One thought on “Powerballistic”
Just make it one buck. Your greatest increase in odds is from zero to the 1 in a kabillion. The next ticket, no matter what magical numbers you divine from birthdays, cow ear number tags (incidently, a woman actually won using that method – herd mentality??), is infinitesimally too small to matter. Unless, of course, you enjoy watching rich college students drive around in $30,000 BMWs while attending school free using inflated grades to maintain eligibility. Here in Georgia, courtesy of MegaMillions, the northern Atlanta suburbs, are treating it like tax-free money from the masses. Our jackpots are now routinely over 100 million, and often approach the 200 million mark. When it hits about 150M, I usually drop a buck too.