Powerball Jackpot Closing In on $1 Billion

It's the largest jackpot in US history
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 3:44 PM CST
Powerball Jackpot Closing In on $1 Billion
Jay Suthar sells Powerball tickets at Pine Liquors in Maryland on Friday.    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The jackpot for this Saturday's Powerball drawing is already the highest jackpot in US history, and it's likely it could soon become the country's first $1 billion jackpot. Michigan Live reports the jackpot is up to $800 million—an increase of $100 million in the past 24 hours. If the current pace of ticket sales continues, it should hit $1 billion by the drawing on Saturday night. The previous high jackpot was $656 million for a MegaMillions game back in 2012, according to CNN. There have now been 18 straight Powerball drawings without a winner, dating back to Nov. 7.

So is it worth buying a ticket? "Playing the lottery is a bad idea, financially speaking," Time notes. But the value of a $2 Powerball ticket can actually increase if the jackpot gets large enough, which makes buying one slightly less of a bad idea, mathematically speaking. According to Time, in order for a Powerball ticket to be worth more than the $2 it costs, the jackpot would have to hit $1.2 billion, taking into account federal taxes and the possibility of multiple winners. With an $800 million jackpot, the expected value of a $2 Powerball ticket is currently a piddly $1.01. You should probably read the whole explainer to understand. (More Powerball stories.)

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