DES MOINES, Iowa
It’s all about the odds.
With the majority of possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, someone is almost sure to win the game’s highest jackpot during Saturday night’s drawing, a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars — and that’s after taxes.
The problem, of course, is those same odds just about guarantee the lucky person won’t be you.
The chances of winning the estimated $600 million prize remain astronomically low: 1 in 175.2 million. That’s how many different ways you can combine the numbers when you play. But lottery officials estimate about 80 percent of those possible combinations had been purchased by Saturday afternoon.
“This would be the roll to get in on,” said Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich. “Of course there’s no guarantee, and that’s the randomness of it, and the fun of it.”
That hasn’t deterred people across Powerball-playing states — 43 plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands — from lining up at gas stations and convenience stores Saturday for their chance at striking it filthy rich.
At a market in the heart of Los Angeles’ Chinatown, employees broke the steady stream of customers into two lines: One for Powerball-ticket buyers and one for everybody else. Some people appeared to be looking for a little karma.
“We’ve had two winners over $10 million here over the years, so people in the neighborhood think this is the lucky store,” employee Gordon Chan said.
Workers at one Columbia, S.C., convenience store were so busy with ticket buyers that they hadn’t updated their sign with the current jackpot figure, which was released Friday. Customer Armous Peterson was reluctant to share his system. “Somebody is going to win,” he said. “Lots of people are going to lose, too. But if you buy a ticket, that winner might be you.”
The latest jackpot was the second- largest overall, just behind a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012.