Tuesday, August 16

New Powerball Odds Make $1 Billion Jackpot About 7.5 Times More Likely to Occur

Good news, and bad news, Powerball players. Soon, the odds of winning the lottery’s jackpot are going to be tougher, but you may be able to win $1 billion if you do.

In the beginning of July, the New York Gaming Commission announced that it’d be tweaking the odds of winning the lottery to increase revenue. Soon, the odds are going from one in 175,223,510, to one in 292,201,338. In other words, those odds that were worse than being struck by lightning (one in 3 million), or being attacked by sharks (one in 11.5 million), or even being crushed to death by a vending machine (only one in 112 million, actually) are now even worse.

On the bright side, a mathematician at FiveThirtyEight has figured out that the new odds make it radically more likely for a player to win $1 billion. About 7.5 times more likely, actually.

“Based on a basic model I built that simulates Powerball jackpots over the next five years of play, the odds change makes a huge, huge difference,” Walt Hickey writes for FiveThirtyEight. “Under the old (1 in 175,223,510) odds, there was a billion-dollar lottery in only 8.5 percent of the simulated five-year periods. But under the new (1 in 292,201,338) odds, there was a billion-dollar lottery in 63.4 percent of the simulated five-year periods.”

In other words, a $1 billion lottery occurred in more than half of Hickey’s simulations.

If a player were to win $1 billion in the Powerball, and choose to receive money as an annuity, they’d make upwards of $700,000 a year. You see, the Powerball annuity payout schedule consists of 30 annual payments that increase over time. On a $60,000,000 jackpot, an annuity in New York state would pay $707,998 after both federal and state taxes are taken out, and it only goes up from there.

While it may soon be possible to win $1 billion in the Powerball, keep in mind that the odds of actually winning it will be tougher. That being said, the New York Gaming Commission is changing the odds to make it more likely to win smaller prizes. In other words, Powerball players will not only soon possibly have the chance to win $1 billion, but also have a better chance to win a couple hundred bucks.

As exciting as all this is, Powerball players are going to have to wait for the new odds. The changes are scheduled to go into effect on October 4 for the drawing on October 7.

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