Despite the dreams that felt so real, you are still not filthy rich.
Your vision of a more fulfilling life, attained by purchasing it with money, was punched in the eye by the cruel jab of reality shortly after 10:59 p.m. Saturday, when you checked your Powerball ticket and saw that you had not won.
Or maybe you didn’t buy a ticket. It doesn’t matter. There were no winners Saturday night.
You might rekindle your vain hopes of unearned wealth by buying a $2 ticket for the next drawing on Wednesday, with an expected payout that has surged to a staggering, life-changing $1.5 billion as of Tuesday afternoon.
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But keep in mind: Your six numbers will not match, and your finances will stay put, minus $2. Most likely.
We would like to comfort you by pointing out that the odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million, which are really, really bad odds. Consider: If you printed out the name of every United States resident on individual pieces of paper, put them in a giant bowl and selected one at random, the odds of picking President Barack Obama are not far from the odds of winning the Powerball.
The odds of being struck by lightning this year are 1 in 1.19 million, making it about 246 times as likely as winning the Powerball jackpot.
With an estimated 1 in 12,500 chance, an amateur golfer is about 23,376 times as likely to make a hole in one.
If you were to win, you could choose a $930 million cash payment or $1.5 billion doled out in annual payments over 29 years. Taxes would slice both by approximately half.
But that isn’t going to happen.
You might get very lucky and win one of the smaller prizes. And $4 is nothing to sniff at.
The lottery involves drawing five white balls from a spinning heap of them numbered 1 to 69, plus a red Powerball numbered between 1 and 26. If you match the Powerball (and no white ones), a 1-in-38 chance, you would get $4.
Matching three of the white balls, a 1-in-580 chance, would earn you $7. If you’re truly living a charmed life and you hit the 1-in-36,525 chance of picking four correctly, you would earn $100.
Maybe you have $584.4 million sitting around. If so, you could use it to buy every possible combination of numbers, guaranteeing victory. Congratulations! But that’s probably not a good idea. There is still the taxman, plus you might have to split your winnings.
You could better invest the fortune you already have elsewhere.
Perhaps you aren’t really planning to win. You could simply want to spend $2 for the dream of a lavish life until 10:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.
Many lottery players rationally know they won’t hit the jackpot but still seek an escape from their day-to-day life, said Joan DiFuria, a co-founder of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute, a wealth counseling organization.
“Of course it doesn’t make sense, but there’s a lot of good things you get out of that $2 that you can’t buy anywhere else,” she said.
If you’d like the thrill of not winning without actually spending money, the Los Angeles Times has a Powerball simulator. You’ll lose that too.
Extra clerks at convenience stores
The huge jackpot has forced many convenience stores to bring in extra clerks to keep lines moving, hoping that people wanting Powerball tickets will decide to also buy a snack or something else in the store.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said the lottery crowd can really wear out clerks if the lines are constant, so the chain of more than 700 stores will have extra staff Wednesday.
He said QuikTrip stores have been busy for nearly two weeks since Powerball’s jackpot first climbed into ridiculous levels.
“It’s been fun, but somebody needs to win,” Thornbrugh said.
“When the jackpots get big like this, it creates a frenzy,” said Brian Johnson, vice president of finance at Casey’s General Stores, which runs 1,900 stores in 14 states. Staff and wire reports