Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tonight, Powerball changes lives -- or history

Gallery: Winners of Giant Lottery Jackpots

UPDATE 11:05 p.m.: Tonight's winning numbers are:58-05-25-59-30 Powerball: 32

At 10:59 tonight, six bouncing balls will dramatically change at least one person's life -- or change lottery history.

The Powerball drawing, televised locally on 6ABC, has a massive jackpot up for grabs, estimated this morning as worth $425 million for the annuity, or $244.7 million cash.

The amounts could even rise before or after the drawing, depending on the final tally for sales.

If no one wins -- and that is quite possible -- bet that this Powerball jackpot will pass the current records, held by a March 2012 Mega Million drawing.

It would be the first roll-over ever for a jackpot worth $400 million or more, and the bigger the jackpot, the more it skyrockets.

Last Nov. 24, a $325 million Powerball jackpot was missed, and when the smoke cleared, the top prize wound up at $587 million, setting a new Powerball record. It was won by two tickets, sold in Missouri and Arizona.

That jackpot jumped $262 million in just four days.

On May 15, Powerball reached $350 million, and when no one hit, the jackpot zoomed even higher, to $590.5 million, and became not only Powerball's biggest jackpot ever, but the biggest prize awarded to a single winner in world history.

The wildest leap of all produced the biggest U.S. jackpot of all.

On March 27, 2012, a Mega Millions jackpot of $356 million rolled over, and three days later, soared to $656 million -- a rise of $300 million. The record cash: $471 million. Three tickets -- sold in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas -- split the pot.

How is it possible no one might hit tonight?

Well, not only won't all 175 million possible combinations be sold for tonight's drawing, but the more tickets people buy, the more likely the next ticket will match one already sold.

About 30 percent of ticket sales goes into jackpots, according to Chuck Strutt, the head of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball.

That means the $72 million jump in the cash prize since Saturday night is based on $240 million in overall sales. With each ticket costing $2, that's 120 million tickets over the last four days.

If these calculations are correct, that means at least 30 percent of the number combinations won't be played.

Factor in random duplications and triplications, and it's possible there's a 50-50 chance of seeing another three days of Powerball frenzy -- and a new U.S. record.

Besides, think of it this way: These lotteries are designed to roll over, to create gigantic jackpots that generate all sorts of excitement and publicity.

The biggest jackpot in world history, by the way, was last year's Spanish Christmas lottery, whose top tier, known as El Gordo or "The Fat One," paid $950 million to 180 winning tickets.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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