Every Wednesday and Saturday, at 10:59 p.m., EST, you have a chance to win millions. All you have to do is pony up two bucks—and guess the Powerball winning numbers. Easy enough.
That’s the main sell of the Powerball, a lottery game organized by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). You can play the game in every state—and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—except the six where lotteries are prohibited. In other words, if you live in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, or Utah—sorry. Per MUSL figures, if you play, you have a 1 in 24.9 chance (about 4 percent) of winning something.
What MUSL doesn’t make clear, however, is that “something” amounts to $4. You’ll have doubled your earnings, yes, but also likely spent more on gas driving to claim your prize. To actually win big—in other words, the jackpot, which, as of this writing, means $455 million, either in the form of a singular whopping check or a 30-year annuity payment plan—your chances are, oh, 1 in 292,201,338 (roughly 0.0000000003%).
Surely, there’s a way to even the odds. Right?
For the uninitiated, here’s how Powerball works: There are six balls—five white (the main balls) and one red (the power ball). For the main balls, you choose five numbers between 1 and 69. For the power ball, you choose one number between 1 and 26. Guessing the numbers right means you win. Guessing them wrong means, well, you don’t—and you’re out a small coffee (or something else that costs two dollars).
If you so desire, you can have the numbers automatically chosen for you. But, by doing so, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to play the odds.
The Most Common Powerball Winning Numbers
MUSL purports that the Powerball winning numbers are chose entirely at random. Still, the math is inarguable; some numbers show up at a higher rate than others. According to the number crunchers at lottery stats tracker lottonumbers.com, these are the top ten most recurring main numbers:
26: 282 drawings
41: 276 drawings
16: 275 drawings
32: 273 drawings
28: 272 drawings
22: 269 drawings
23: 269 drawings
39: 267 drawings
42: 266 drawings
40: 265 drawings
And these are top five most recurring power ball numbers:
6: 85 drawings
20: 83 drawings
9: 82 drawings
11: 76 drawings
2: 75 drawings
The Least Common Powerball Winning Numbers
On the other hand, if you’re opting into the game, there are few values you may want to steer clear from. (It’s worth noting that, over the years, MUSL has increased the numeral range on both main and power ball drawings. Since stats trackers tally up the total drawings of all time, that’s why these numbers have been drawn less frequently. Still, these numbers have been around long enough that the drawing rate should be higher than what it is.)
Here are the main numbers:
65: 13 drawings
60: 16 drawings
67: 18 drawings
66: 20 drawings
68: 20 drawings
61: 24 drawings
62: 25 drawings
63: 25 drawings
64: 27 drawings
69: 29 drawings
And here are the power ball numbers:
45: 13 drawings
43: 14 drawings
44: 14 drawings
41: 29 drawings
40: 33 drawings
The Most Likely Way to Win
You can snag smaller prizes by setting your sights a little lower than the jackpot. Winning is still a long shot, of course, but it’s not anything like a 1 in 292 million long shot.
For instance, if you guess four white balls correctly (1 in 36,525), you’ll win $100. If you guess four white balls and the power ball (1 in 913,129), you’ll win $50,000. And if you get all five of the white balls correctly, you’ll win $1 million (1 in 11,688,000).
What’s more, those figures don’t factor in so-called power plays, where, for a dollar extra, you can multiply your potential spoils by two, three, four, five, or ten times. In recent drawings, power plays have tended toward the lower end: two or three. And, per lottonumbers.com, a ten has only been drawn seven times since being introduced in 2015. (MUSL claims the power play is utterly by chance.)
The Best Life Bet
4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Because the odds of winning even the $1 million prize are roughly the same as what happened to the plane in LOST. For savvier ways to invest your hard-earned dough, learn the 52 Ways to Be Smarter With Money.
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