Powerball jackpot surges to $800 million

Posted at 9:23 AM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 18:25:11-05

The amount of the largest-ever lottery jackpot in the U.S. has ballooned to $800,000,000, as sales soared in the days leading up to the drawing. The cash option will be $496 million.

No one was declared a winner of the $650 million Powerball prize after numbers were drawn Wednesday. The next drawing is slated for Saturday night.

Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery, says officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association on Friday raised the estimated jackpot for Saturday night's drawing from $700 million because of strong sales. Grief says Powerball sales on Thursday were double the previous record for that day and that it's possible the estimated jackpot could rise again before the drawing.

A winner would have the option of being paid $800 million through annual payments over 29 years or opting for $496 million in cash.

With the Powerball jackpot on the rise, millions will hit convenience stores across the country, hoping the six numbers they choose will change their life.

When picking lotto numbers, some players have a system: Birthdays, alphanumeric words, or the uniform numbers of their favorite players. Others go with their gut or “lucky” numbers.

But would it change your mind if you knew which numbers were most commonly drawn as Powerball winners?

While you’ll still have the same one in 292 million chance to win, no matter what numbers you choose, looking at the raw data from every winning Powerball number uncovers some interesting trends.

  • According to Powerball’s website, there have been 1,897 drawings since the game began in 1997 with only 213 winners. That means a jackpot is only awarded 11 percent of the time.
  • The most commonly drawn numbers in Powerball history? 32 and 41. Both have appeared 193 times, or just over 10 percent of the time. At the current odds, every number has about a 7 percent chance of appearing in any given drawing.
  • As the game has evolved, more numbers have been added to the “Pick 5” pool to decrease the odds. In October, the pool increased to 69. In the 26 drawings since that time, “68” has been drawn four times, or 15 percent of the time.
  • The most winningest “Pick 5” numbers are 14 and 17. Both have been a part of 27 (or roughly 13 percent) of winning tickets.
  • Since the “Pick 5” pool increased to 59 in 2009, “59” has been drawn 65 times, or nearly 9 percent of the time.
  • In addition to correctly picking all five “regular” numbers, players must also guess a sixth “power ball’ out of a pool of 26 numbers in order to win the jackpot. The most commonly drawn powerball number is 20, which has appeared 63 times (3 percent).
  • The last two jackpot winners both selected 17 as their “power ball.”