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What are your odds of winning the Powerball?

The Powerball jackpot has climbed to $550-million – the largest jackpot in the game’s history. Is there any way of guaranteeing a winning ticket? NewsChannel 9 asked some local mathematicians.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The Powerball jackpot has climbed to $550-million – the largest jackpot in the game’s history. Is there any way of guaranteeing a winning ticket?

NewsChannel 9 asked some local mathematicians and here’s what we learned: There are a total of 175,223,510 different ticket combinations. We asked: Could you buy that many tickets with all the combinations and still make money?

Well, a $550-million jackpot leaves you with more than $360-million after taxes – plenty for everyone here still buying tickets. At two dollars each, if you were to buy one ticket for every combination and won, you’d end up with a little more than $10-million, but you’d run into one big problem – time. You’d never have enough to buy all the combinations – not even if you did that and nothing else.

“If you were able to buy one ticket every second without sleeping, without eating, just standing there buying tickets – one ticket, every second – it would take you 5.6 years to buy the tickets,” said OCC Mathematics Professor Candice Dance.

And all that paper!

“That would weigh 175 tons and then you’d have to sort through them again to find the winning ticket,” Dance continued.

It’s a more than daunting task, one that Dance says you’d have zero chance of accomplishing and your chances don’t improve much when you have just one ticket to check.

OCC Mathematics Department Chair Michael Oppedisano says, “[Your chances of winning are] approximately 0.00000057 percent. That's you're chance of winning if you play with one ticket.”

What about being somewhere in the middle?

“If you bought a million tickets…you're still less than one percent likely to win this thing,” Dance said.

It's not a risk this professor is willing to take. Dance says she’s not buying a ticket.

But even after breaking down the numbers and seeing all those zero's on the chalkboard, Oppedisano still plans to try and beat the odds “because somebody has to win.”

It’s not too late to try your luck. There are still people buying tickets. You have until 9 p.m. to buy your tickets.

You can watch tonight’s Powerball drawing live on NewsChannel 9’s Eleven at 11:00. If no one wins, the jackpot for Saturday’s drawing will be at world record levels.

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