The anticipation of your Powerball numbers being called last Saturday had your mind filled with endless opportunities from the wealth you were about to inherit. Sadly (but not surprisingly) your numbers were not called and you returned back to work on Monday only to get in on the office pool again with high hopes on winning this Wednesday’s big $1.4 billion dollar jackpot!
Keep in mind your six numbers will not match, and your finances will stay put, minus the $2 you put into the office Powerball pool.
We would like to comfort you by pointing out that the odds of hitting the jackpot are one 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 Obama are not far from the odds of winning the Powerball.
The odds of being struck by lightning this year are one in 1.19 million, making it about 246 times as likely as winning the Powerball jackpot.
With an estimated one 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 an $868 million cash payment or $1.4 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 one-in-38 chance, you would get $4.
Matching three of the white balls, a one-in-580 chance, would earn you $7. If you’re truly living a charmed life and you hit the one-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.
Now, we want to hear from you! Would like to share your opinion or make a comment on the Unlock Your Wealth Radio Show? If so, then please leave your comment or questions in the space provided below and share this article with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Your comments or question could be chosen as our featured Money Question Monday and a phone call by financial expert Heather Wagenhals could dial your way to be live on the Unlock Your Wealth Radio Show.