Losing the lottery can be dangerous

Tonight’s Powerball drawing will be Wednesday at 9:59 p.m. Central Time. Five white balls will be drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball will be selected from a drum with 26 balls. To win, players need to have paid $2 for a ticket and either have chosen numbers or opted to let a computer make a random choice.

The jackpot is listed as $700 million, but that refers to the annuity option, doled out in 30 payments over 29 years. Nearly all winners favor the cash option, which pays significantly less. For the current jackpot, the cash prize would be $443.3 million.

The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. Tom Rietz, a professor at the University of Iowa who researches probabilities, says one way to think about it is to envision the 324 million U.S. residents. Your chance of winning is roughly comparable to being that one lucky person out of the entire population, with everyone else losing.

If you don’t win, would it cool if one of your neighbors did?

Well, no.

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