What Are Your Chances of Winning The Lottery? A Math-Based Approach to a Common Question

Many of us have a speculative plan about how we would spend our lottery winnings, should we ever beat the odds and actually win.

It’s a strange thing that, for a small ticket fee, we’re all given the opportunity to win extravagant, life-changing amounts of money. Naturally, we all like to think that we have a shot at winning the jackpot, but what are the actual chances of winning the lottery?

We’re going to take a look at the actual odds of one person winning the lottery, giving you a better idea of what your chances are.

What are the Actual Chances of Winning the Lottery?

We’ll use the Powerball lottery, which is the most common lottery that Americans take part in.

The largest prize offered in the history of the lottery come from a Powerball, coming in at around 1.5 billion. Let’s take a look at the odds of your ticket landing you a life-changing amount of cash.

How Does It Work?

The Powerball, along with most other forms of the lottery, operates using a set of numbered balls. There are six numbers chosen from six, separate pools of numbered balls.

The first number is chosen from a pool of 59 balls, each ranging in number from 1-59. The next four numbers are chosen in the same way. The final ball is chosen from a pool of 39 balls, called “Powerballs.”

So, each of the first five numbers you choose has a 1-in-59 chance of being correct. The sixth ball you choose has a 1-in-39 chance of being correct. In order to predict the likelihood of stringing those numbers together in sequence, you have to stack those odds on top of each other.

Understanding the Odds

When you consider the 1-in-59 odds multiplied together five times, followed by the final 1-in-39 chance of choosing the right number, you end up with something pretty unlikely.

In fact, the chances of randomly guessing the correct numbers are slightly higher than you being selected randomly from a pool of every person living in the United States.

The chances are 1 in roughly 195,250,000 million.

Predicting Winning in Other Lotteries

When you’re considering the odds of winning in a set of lottery results, there are a few factors that you should understand.

Know how many numbers are contained in each selection. If there are 100 balls in the first pool, do they take one out and choose from 99 in the next?

If so, your chances are 1/100 on the first pull and 1/99 on the next. The next thing to understand is how to stack those odds together.

Take the number of events and multiply it by how many numbers are available to be picked. So, in the case above, we would multiply 100 by 99. The odds of choosing the correct string of numbers, in that case, would be 1 in 9,900.

Want to Learn More?

There’s a lot to learn about different forms of lotteries, gambling, and ways to make money. More broadly, there’s a whole lot that we all have to understand about making money and handling it with care.

Explore our site for more insight into the financial matters that affect your life. Whether it’s your chances of winning the lottery or how to speak with a financial planner, we’ve got you covered.