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# Can you beat the odds to win the Powerball jackpot?

Insider Buzz: Can you beat the odds to win the Powerball jackpot?

If you've played the Powerball drawings and lost, would you like to improve your odds of winning the multi-million dollar jackpot? The head of the University of Tennessee's math department explains whether it's possible to beat the odds.

People say getting struck by lightning is a better bet than winning a lottery. But the National Association of States and Provincial Lotteries web site says that in 1996, 1,136 people won \$1,000,000 or more playing lotteries in America. And 4,520 others won \$100,000 or more.

By contrast, the lottery association says that in 1996 only 91 people were killed by lightning. So does that make Powerball a good bet?

"The chances of getting all of these numbers right are computed by something called binomial coefficients," Bob Daverman explained.

If you buy one ticket and your neighbor buys 10, of course your neighbor has an increased chance of winning. However, "Neither of you has much of a chance. But he does have 10 times as much as you do," Daverman said.

And at 120 million to 1 odds, Daverman did the math. You'd have to buy a lot more than 10 or even a 100 or 1,000 tickets to dramatically increase your chances of winning. "If you want a 50-50 chance of winning the lottery, you've got to buy 60-million tickets," he said.

So is it possible, beyond spending more in tickets than the jackpot is often worth, to gain an advantage in a Powerball drawing? The answer is, not really.

"There's no difference amongst those 120 million numbers," Daverman said. "But many people like to go for what they think are their lucky numbers. Those are often computed using birthdays and things like that. So it's a more limiting set of numbers."

That means you can increase your odds of being a single winner by choosing numbers outside those that tend to be over-selected such as 1 to 12 for months and 1 to 31 for days.

And if you buy a \$1.00 ticket, "The real difference is you're out a dollar and I'm not," Daverman said. "I have no chance. You have an infinitesimal chance. So you're better off if you like the chance. I'm better off if I value my dollar."

Daverman said if you like playing the lottery, play for the dream of winning. But don't play it to win. "What's the quote about the lottery? The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at mathematics."

The Powerball web site says anyone who plays the game has a 1 in 36 chance of winning something. The odds of winning \$3.00 are 1 in 70. The odds increase to 1 in 124 for a \$4.00 prize.

And here's a fact that might keep you from buying a ticket altogether. If you drive to the store to buy Powerball tickets, putting at least two miles on your odometer, your chances of being involved in a deadly crash are four times greater than your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot.

WATE

7 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
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Johannesburg
South Africa
Member #4640
May 12, 2004
178 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 8:14 am - IP Logged

There's no difference amongst those 120 million numbers," Daverman said.

I trully doubt it.Anyway I am not yet to win to prove he is wrong either.

United States
Member #972
December 30, 2002
463 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 10:36 am - IP Logged

Of course he's right. Having one number is fun, you can dream, but if you buy 20 and win nothing, you really feel like that money could have been put to many other better uses. It's fun to spend a dollar and dream of your clifftop Hawaii bungalow, not as much fun lose more than that going after almost impossible odds.

Wisconsin
United States
Member #1610
June 3, 2003
668 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 12:43 pm - IP Logged

[...And i

`... the lottery never fails to surprise!`

United States
Member #620
August 25, 2002
205 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 7:58 pm - IP Logged

"...putting at least two miles on your odometer, your chances of being involved in a deadly crash are four times greater than your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot."

With that information, we all ought to feel like a John Wayne when we venture out to buy our tickets.

Columbia,Pa
United States
Member #3522
January 27, 2004
372 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 9:20 pm - IP Logged
Quote: Originally posted by rabbitfoot on May 21, 2004

"...putting at least two miles on your odometer, your chances of being involved in a deadly crash are four times greater than your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot."

With that information, we all ought to feel like a John Wayne when we venture out to buy our tickets.

Wear your seatbelt when you venture out to buy tickets, and you have reduced your odds of beind killed. You have increased you odds of playing the lottery since you're alive and not dead. When your dead you have no odds and no chance of winning the lottery.

Chas

Pennsylvania
United States
Member #1340
April 6, 2003
2444 Posts
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 Posted: May 21, 2004, 9:56 pm - IP Logged

"...putting at least two miles on your odometer, your chances of being involved in a deadly crash are four times greater than your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot."

I drive 34 miles a day to work... each way... monday I will march right in to my boss' office and demand hazard pay!

Hey, I hear most accidents happen within 5 miles of home... should I move?

Don't bug me with the odds... I'm busy benefitting older Pennsylvanians with my spare change twice a week...

Playing more than one ticket per game is betting against yourself.

United States
Member #379
June 5, 2002
11296 Posts
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 Posted: June 12, 2004, 10:30 am - IP Logged

And yet PA never offered a "change" game.

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