Eyeing $600M Powerball jackpot? You have better chance of death by lightning

Photo by KADN staff.
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 10:09am

The estimated jackpot for Saturday's multistate Powerball drawing has risen to $600 million, the Multi-State Lottery Association said Friday. That would be the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, behind the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.

The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) that operates Powerball on behalf of 45 participating lotteries, including the Louisiana Lottery, made the announcement Friday morning based on a nationwide surge in sales. Before the increase, the advertised jackpot was $550 million.

The jackpot was last hit on March 30 and Saturday’s drawing is the 14th in the current run. Statewide Powerball sales total more than $5 million for the week beginning Sunday, May 12 and that number is expected to climb ahead of Saturday’s drawing. Powerball tickets must be purchased by 9 p.m. that night.

But before you start dreaming of that mansion in Barbados, allow us to pour an icy bucket of mathematical reality over your head: You almost certainly aren't going to win.

You stand a better chance of walking onto the golf course and hitting two consecutive holes in one than winning that jackpot.

Here are a few unlikely scenarios that, we're sorry to say, are much more likely than you taking home this jackpot.

From the Harvard School of Public Health:

-- Dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million.

-- Dying from a lightning strike: 1 in 3 million.

From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:

-- A golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million.

From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:

-- Hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely: 1 in 6,267.

From the National Weather Service:

-- Being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics:

-- Drowning and other beach-related fatalities: 1 in 2 million.

-- Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million.

That being said, some folks do snatch a jackpot from the jaws of improbability, one of them being Geneva, Illinois, resident Ricardo Cereza.

Cereza recently yanked some old lottery tickets out of a cookie jar at his house. One of them turned out to be an Illinois Lottery ticket worth $4.8 million, CNN affiliate WGN reported.

"When I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of, 'whoa, can this really be?'" Cereza told the station.

"So I called my son over and asked him to double-check this, and he looks it through and goes, 'Yep, looks like a winner,'" Cereza said.

The family will use the winnings to pay off the mortgage on their home, which was facing foreclosure, according to WGN.

Louisiana has had 14 Powerball jackpot winners since joining the game in 1995, most recently in July 2010 with a jackpot of $85.7 million. The largest Powerball jackpot ever won is $587.5 million in November 2012, which was split between two winning tickets.

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