With the Powerball jackpot now at $425 million, it is logical for players to wonder if they should buy tickets for all the possible combinations. At first glance, one might think this would be a winning strategy for picking up an easy $74.6 million.
However, before one recklessly spends this much money, there are several factors that that must be considered.
- In the 2012 Powerball game, each ticket costs $2. Since there are approximately 175.2 million combinations, one would have to spend $350.4 million to accomplish this.
- The $425 million jackpot is the annuity value which is paid in 30 varying installments (29 years). This implies that the breakeven 0 profit financing rate is 1.144%. So, if one borrowed the $350.4 million, the borrowing rate must be less than this interest rate in order to make a profit. If the borrowing rate is more than 1.144%, you will lose money.
- The cash value being offered today is $278.3 million. If you take the cash, you will immediately lose $72.1 million.
- In order to guarantee yourself a winning ticket, you must buy all the 175.2 unique combinations. If you are lazy and buy 175.2 quick picks, then there is a 36.8% chance that you will not have the winning combination.
- When the jackpot is this high, we can expect that approximately 120 million other tickets will be sold. Of these, there will be a 50% chance that one of these will be a winning ticket. This means that there is a 50% chance that you will have to share the jackpot prize with at least 1 other winner. If this happens, you might win only $212.5 million annuity or $139.2 million cash or less. Again, you will take a loss.
But, what if no one wins the jackpot in the next drawing and the Powerball grows to $600 million. Should you buy the combinations then?
To help you answer this, we present the two graphs below. The first shows the chances of there being a losing Powerball as ticket sales grow to 500 million. As you can see, the chances decrease as sales increase. When 200 million tickets are sold. there is a 30% chance that nobody will win. When ticket sales hit 500 million, there is less than a 6% chance that there will be no winner.
Thus, we continue to recommend that you should: