Powerball added a bunch of numbers to the game a few weeks back with the intent of creating much bigger winning pots - and it's working. Tonight's jackpot is sitting at $900 million as I write this, but many people anticipate that it will top one billion dollars by the time of the actual drawing. Big jackpots bring out the suckers - in droves - and make money for the lotteries.
Tonight's drawing, even if it remains at a paltry $900 million ($558 million cash option), will still be the largest in U.S. history.
I quit playing Powerball on a regular basis when they jacked the price of their ticket to two dollars, but I do make exceptions when the jackpots get crazy high. I have one ticket for tonight's drawing just in case the lottery goddess feels an intense desire to destroy my life with money.
There was an article in a southwest Missouri newspaper yesterday talking about local interest in Powerball. One guy told the reporter that he had bought ten dollars worth of the tickets (five tickets). He justified that purchase by saying that it cost more than that in gas to drive to the casino. The fellow then said that he will probably buy another ten dollars worth of tickets before the drawing on Saturday because "the odds are the same as the casino."
Wrong, genius. The odds of winning Powerball are one in 292.2 million. Some of the very worst odds in a casino are at the roulette wheel - and even there chances of placing that two-dollar chip on the correct number are better than one in forty.
Missouri says that it uses lottery proceeds for education. Obviously the state needs to think about raising the price of its tickets!