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AP - Enthusiastic ticket-buyers pushed the record Powerball jackpot to $949.8 million for Saturday night's drawing, but no ticket matched all six numbers, boosting the expected payout for Wednesday's drawing to a whopping $1.3 billion.

 

Here's a rundown of some key figures - though not the winning numbers - connected to the drawing:

 

JACKPOT

Wednesday's drawing will be worth $1.3 billion, the largest in the world, said Texas Lottery official Kelly Cripe.

 

ODDS OF WINNING

To put it gently, not good. The odds of any Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million. A ray of hope: Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, says your tiny odds improve a bit if you let the computer pick your numbers rather than choosing yourself.

 

POSSIBLE NUMBER COMBINATIONS

There are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. That's where the odds come from, and they stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets.

 

LUMP SUM VS. LIFETIME PAYOUT

Once you beat the astronomical odds and win, you'll get to choose between being paid $1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or one $806 million cash payment. Those figures are before federal and state taxes, which will eat up roughly half of the cash-option prize. Your best bet? Take the annuity to avoid the risk of overspending or an investment mishap, according to Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

STATES WHERE THE GAME IS PLAYED

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

 

BUYING TICKETS

A regular ticket costs $2 - about the same as a gallon of gas.





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