How to beat the odds in Powerball drawing

Published 11/28 2012 06:06PM

Updated 11/28 2012 06:33PM

CHAMPAIGN -- More than half a billion dollars are up for grabs in Wednesday's Powerball jackpot. The odds may not be in your favor, but there are some ways to increase your chances of winning.

"I came to the gas station to buy Powerball tickets," said Alex Leiding, who is a graduate student of the University of Illinois. "I bought 50 tickets, so $100 worth."

Leiding is not alone. So many people hope to cash in, it's raised the jackpot even more.

"I assume I'm not going to win anything but it'd be very nice," said Leiding.

It's a game of chance, but also a game of numbers. So we went to the experts to see if there's any way to calculate the winning combination.

"The short answer is, no. There's not," said Douglas Simpson, who is the chair of the statistics department at the University of Illinois. "There's actually about 175 million different possible numbers. Every one of those has the same chance of coming up."

Simpson said stay away from lucky numbers, like 7 or 13. Those are popular picks, so if they're the winning ones, you may have to split the jackpot.

"Maybe the prize is $550 million," said Simpson, "and if you have to share it with three other people, that would decrease your payoff. Of course, we'd all be happy with even a third of that."

Mathematically speaking, you're more likely to get attacked by a shark than to win the big jackpot, and even more likely to get struck by lightning. But that doesn't stop people from playing.

"Even if I don't win big, just going through and sitting around with my friends will be a fun time," said Leiding.

Even though the chances are astronomical, experts are predicting multiple winners because of how many people are playing. 

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