On Wednesday evening, a much-anticipated Powerball drawing will take place in Tallahassee, Florida. This particular Powerball drawing is receiving so much attention because of its very substantial jackpot. The Powerball winner stands to gain around $700 million — the second highest Powerball sum ever. If you are contemplating buying a ticket (or if you already have one), you may be wondering what exactly the odds are that you will win the Powerball jackpot.
Unfortunately, as expected, they are quite low, but that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't join in on the fun and purchase a ticket. According to CBS News, the odds of winning this evening's Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million. For comparison's sake, around 324 million people live in the United States. As Tom Rietz, a professor at the University of Iowa who researches probabilities, put it to CBS News, your chances of winning are about the same as being the one lucky person to be selected out of the population of the entire country.
While these odds are, frankly, ridiculously small, that doesn't necessarily mean you should skip out on buying a ticket. For one, buying a ticket allows your to be a part of the Powerball fun while also supporting government programs, like state education budgets and infrastructure programs. Funds from Powerball are used to fund these programs in 44 states as well as in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You also stand a chance at winner a smaller prize amount through Powerball. Powerball is played by selecting five white balls from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball from a drum holding 26 balls. To win the entire jackpot, an individual must match all five white balls and the red ball (the Powerball).
However, you still win smaller amounts if you match parts of this combination. For example, you have a one in 38 chance of matching the Powerball and winning $4 (a $2 profit on your ticket) and a one in 14,994 chance of winning $100 (by matching three white balls and the Powerball). If you want to further examine other odds, Powerball actually provides a helpful list of all potential winning combinations and their related odds.
To be fair, your chances of winning any substantial amount of money are still incredibly low. Indeed, Business Insider calculated whether it is worth it to buy a Powerball ticket by examining the expected value of the Powerball lottery process and ended up with a resounding "no." However, that does not mean it is still not fun to try your luck and participate while also supporting government programs with your ticket spendings at the same time.
For all those who do have a ticket (or plan on purchasing one), the drawing will be held at 10:59 p.m. ET in Tallahassee, Florida. You can tune into the drawing on Powerball's very own YouTube channel.