We’re in the money

Question:

Why does the Powerball Jackpot max out at $30 million?

On a normal week they sell 1.5 million tickets.  Last week, when the jackpot was $24 million, they sold 2.5 million tickets.  This week they sold 3.5 million tickets, worth $33 million.  

So, it seems that a big jackpot is good for sales. 

Why not let the fun continue if nobody wins? Let the amount get REALLY BIG!

Also, for what it’s worth, and appreciating that maths is the LAST thing people think about when they buy a Lotto ticket, a quick calculation…

No doubt there were lots of people who don’t normally buy a Lotto ticket, but did this week.

However, the prize this week was 25% more than last week, but there were 40% more tickets sold, so the already low odds were actually much lower this week than last!

:-)

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5 thoughts on “We’re in the money”

  1. Ah but the odds of winning are the same no matter how many people play. It’s just the odds of sharing the prize that go up.
    Also the odds this week were higher, because unlike previous weeks someone had to win, so likely (as happened) it would only rely on 5+power-ball rather than the full 6 numbers.

    Personally I don’t subscribe to Lotto, i find it an exercise in greed, but just thought I’d point out the flaw in the logic.

  2. Owen, of course, is right … the odds of any one player winning doesn’t change from week to week, but the odds of having to share the prize increases as the number of tickets sold goes up. So, if there are nearly three times the number of tickets sold compared to a “normal” week (as there were last week) then the prize would also need to more than triple to match, which it didn’t.

    But, he’s also right about the “must be won” situation changing the odds too. For example, when you calculate the odds of winning second division you also need to factor in the possibility that nobody will win first division and the jackpot will be shared between the second division winners.

    The odds of winning each division are explained here:
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0810/S00130.htm

    But, as I pointed out, it’s is not about maths. If it was, the only number that would count is the fact that Lotto pays out just 55c for each dollar “invested”.

    If you interested in the anthropology of Lotto this is a good essay by Peter Howland:
    http://steeleroberts.co.nz/resources/howland_lotto.php

  3. Because at a certain level it becomes worthwhile to buy every single ticket combination and guarantee victory.

    Then it’s just a matter of how many others choose those numbers and what % share you get.
    As the $ bonus gets higher and higher it becomes much more likely that this strategy will yield a decent return. So they limit the top.

    Besides – what’s the difference between $30m and $40m? Really?

  4. I thought it was a strange co-incidence that the lotto machine “played-up” minutes before the big must-be-won jackpot draw. It was swapped for an identical machine. Maybe a touch suspicious given some unusual timing. With all the clever technology out there today, I hope the regulation of the national lottery is keeping up.

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