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How to Maximize Your Powerball Winnings

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Grand Valley State University statistics professor John Gabrosek shares his thoughts on how to win the Powerball jackpot.

Saturday’s Powerball jackpot will be the largest for any lottery game in American history after the $500 million drawing on January 6 yielded no winner.

Saturday’s jackpot is currently sitting at $700 million. The previous jackpot record was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot won in March of 2012.

John Gabrosek, statistics professor at Grand Valley State University, said the odds of one person actually winning Saturday’s grand prize if they purchase only one ticket is about 1 in 292,201,338.

“The calculation to determine the chance of winning the lottery involves something called ‘combinatorics,’ which encompasses finding the number of chances something can happen and the number of ways a ticket can be a winner,” Gabrosek said. “For example, after all the calculator magic, there are 11,238,513 different five-number possibilities for the white Powerball numbers.”

Gabrosek said the best strategy is to buy more tickets and play mid-range numbers.

“To increase the chances you won’t have to split a winning ticket, play numbers in the 40s, 50s and 60s for the white balls,” Gabrosek said. “People often play numbers that relate to meaningful things, such as ages and birthdays, especially of children and siblings. Since ages of children would tend to be smaller numbers and birthdays are never beyond a monthly end date of 31, people tend not to play high numbers.”

Gabrosek said he believes that most people in the U.S. play lottery games because they think they have a higher chance of winning than they actually do.

“The lottery does a very good job of advertising the winners without talking much about the chances of winning or the many, many losers,” Gabrosek said. “Everyone thinks they have a system to beat the odds, but they really don’t. All that being said, I’ll probably buy a ticket.”


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