After no single ticket matched all six numbers in Saturday’s Powerball drawing, the jackpot in the nationwide lottery skyrocketed by an incredible $165 million — landing at a whopping $700 million for Saturday’s drawing. The Powerball jackpot will be the second-largest lottery jackpot in United States history.
Nearly 114 million Powerball tickets, priced at two bucks each, were sold for Saturday’s drawing. That was the highest sales figure of the 66 drawings held so far in 2017. The all-time record lottery jackpot came in a January 13, 2016, drawing worth an astonishing $1.5 billion. That drawing attracted ticket sales of well above 635 million.
Both of the earlier, $400 million-plus drawings this year resulted in winning tickets, but with odds of hitting the jackpot at one in a whopping 292,201,338, even the striking sales figures for those two jackpots fall well short of actually guaranteeing a winner. But is there anything that lottery players can do — any tips, tricks, or strategies — that could actually increase their chances of claiming the life-changing $430 million up for grabs on August 16?
The answer is yes — sort of. Sadly, the bottom line when it comes to playing any lottery is that assuming the drawing itself is conducted fairly, each number combination has the exact same chance of being drawn. Some self-styled lottery experts have claimed that selecting one’s own personalized numbers, as opposed to simply letting the lottery computer choose numbers at random, will increase the chances of hitting the jackpot. But statisticians say that’s simply not true.
In fact, picking numbers randomly may be the better option. While random, computerized “quick picks” will not boost your odds of winning the jackpot, they probably increase the chances that if you do win, you will not have to share the jackpot with another Powerball winner — because selecting personalized numbers such as birthdays or other significant dates means you’re more likely to pick the same numbers as other players.
Roughly 70 percent of all Powerball winners have won using randomly select numbers. At the same time, researchers have shown that some numbers have appeared more frequently than others in Powerball drawings. The numbers 26, 41, 22, and 16 have been the most frequently drawn numbers, according to the site LottoNumbers.com.
However, due to the random nature of the drawings, players should be aware that just because those four numbers have appeared with the most frequency in the past, there is nothing to indicate that they will continue to appear with the same frequency in the future.
Also, for reasons that have not been explained — but are likely related to nothing but pure luck — purchasing tickets in Pennsylvania has, at least historically, produced the best chance of winning Powerball. The state leads the country with 16 jackpot winners in the last 13 years. Again, however, past performance is not an indicator of future performance in a game of pure chance such as Powerball.
As it turns out, research has shown there is only one way to significantly increase your actual odds of winning Powerball, or any lottery drawing for that matter. That method is simple but expensive: buy a massive number of tickets.
That technique appears to be the one used by the world’s “luckiest” lottery player, Joan Ginther of Texas, who has won jackpots of at least $2 million on four separate occasions and has won 28 lottery prizes altogether. But an exposé on Ginther by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2014 revealed that the supposedly lucky winner had purchased more than 100,000 lottery tickets, spending about $3.3 million to increase her “luck.”
[Featured Image by Elise Amendola/AP Images]