With the multi-state Powerball jackpot at $500 million ahead of tonight's drawing, more people than ever are taking a shot at the half-billion jackpot.
If only you could guarantee that the Powerball winning numbers would appear on your ticket this evening. Actually, if you really analyze it, you can!
Here's the situation: In order to assure that you will win the nation's biggest lotto jackpot, all you have to do is buy up every single combination of numbers.
How many are we talking about? Fewer than you might think.
If you're new, six numbers are drawn from a tumbler filled with 59 white balls, with the final “powerball” drawn from a different tumbler of 39 red balls.
Because each of the six white balls removes a number from the pool, and the order doesn’t matter, the odds are probably better than you'd imagine.
You need to buy just 195,249,054 tickets, at $2 each, to guarantee a win! Spend $390,498,108 and you walk away with $500 million. Nice ROI there!
When the Powerball jackpot went unclaimed Saturday, it began to make sense to do this; obviously, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't shake out with a smaller pot.
Not that there aren't logistical headaches involved in this plan ... okay, more like nightmares.
Taxes are a hindrance to profitability. You wouldn’t want to try for a modest $200 million. You need a jackpot high enough to leave an after-tax profit.
Second, you might need a few people to go in on it with you if you want to front that entire amount, and they'd want a cut of the winnings most likely.
Sharing the pot inevitably means taking home less. A necessary evil in this case, though.
Then there's the time commitment involved. If it takes one second to print each number combination, it would still take six YEARS to print all the tickets.
With only four days between Saturday and Wednesday drawings, you're in a tough spot.
This time constraint means that you’d have to expand the operation ... around 565 people could get the job done. Of course, then you have to split the pot 565 ways.
Also, the one person with the winning ticket then has to actually share the Powerball jackpot, if they even buy tickets with their share of the upfront costs.
So ... your 565 operatives had better be some trustworthy souls. You may need more like 600-700 just for support and managerial staff, come to think of it.
Also, lottery machines are bound to run out of paper and ink printing those tickets and might pose an obstacle ... so you'd need even more people or more time.
Okay, maybe it's better to just play the odds like everyone else. Hey, you never know.
UPDATE: The winning numbers drawn Wednesday night were:
5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.