"Anyone who fails to understand these incredibly terrible odds, the argument goes, is just throwing money away. And those who throw money away, the argument continues, are just failing to apply reason to a straightforward math problem... [but] To complain that the lottery is a bad bet and a waste of money is like complaining that Luke Skywalker isn’t a real person. Don’t play the lottery because you are likely to win. Play the lottery for a shared communion with the sublimity of extreme contingency... To play Powerball is to participate in a collective ritual that pays homage to the enormously improbable things that nevertheless happen all the time."CNN Money:
Powerball players have spent a total of $2.26 billion on tickets since the last time there was a winner in November.
The jackpot hit $1.6 billion on Wednesday after Saturday night's drawing failed to produce a winner. According to the Texas Lottery, the cash equivalent was $983.5 million.
The jackpot has been accruing since Nov. 4, 2015, when the last Powerball jackpot was claimed by a winner in Tennessee. This jackpot first broke into the top 10 largest of all time when it hit $400 million on January 3. It hit the billion dollar mark about a week after that.
The previous record U.S. lottery jackpot was a Mega Millions game in March 2012 that paid out $656 million.
To win the grand prize, the ticket must match all five numbers (in any order) and the red Powerball number. Anyone with just a matching Powerball number gets four bucks.
The odds of winning are 1 in 292 million, and the chances of winning the jackpot got slimmer when Powerball implemented a rule change in October 2015. But the odds of some draw winning are (at least) one in three. And they increase as more tickets are sold.
Powerball is sold in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
» Forbes: "10 Things To Do When You Win The Lottery"
» The Atlantic: "The Sublime Beauty of Powerball"