With the estimated jackpot for Wednesday night's Powerball drawing a walloping $1.5 billion, lottery regulars and novices alike are flocking to their corner stores hoping to get a piece of the big prize.
The drawing is random, so there's nothing you can do to improve your chances of winning, aside from breaking the bank by spending $600 million on all 292 million possible ticket combinations (which, we've discovered, isn't feasible.) That $1.5 billion is an estimate partly based on how many people are expected to buy tickets, so there's going to be literally millions of tickets you're competing against.
Each lottery ticket you buy gives you one chance of winning the jackpot. Buying three tickets gives you three chances of winning, however the overall best lottery odds of winning the jackpot, or any other prize in the lottery draw, depend on how many numbers are to be chosen on a ticket and the guess range of the numbers available in the draw. If an additional number, such as a Powerball, is also drawn, it is even harder to win prizes.
For example, your chances of winning the jackpot in Philippines Lotto, which allows you to choose 6 numbers from a 1-42 guess range (1 in 5,245,786), are better than if you were playing a lottery with an additional number. Even though Germany's Lotto has a similar guess range of 1-49, the game's additional number (bonus ball) reduces the jackpot-winning odds to 1 in 139,838,160.
In comparison, when you play the US Powerball you choose 5 numbers from a guess range of 1-69 and an additional Powerball from a guess range of 1-16, giving you a 1 in 292,201,338 chance of winning the jackpot. When you play Mega Millions, you choose 5 numbers from a guess range of 1-70 and an additional Mega Number from a guess range of 1-25. This gives you a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of winning the Mega Millions jackpot.