At the time of this writing, the Powerball jackpot is up to $1.5 billion. The cash grand prize is estimated at $930 million.
In a Powerball draw, five white balls are drawn from a drum with 69 balls and one red ball is drawn from a drum with 26 balls. If you match all six numbers, you win the jackpot. If you match only some of the numbers, you win a smaller fixed prize.
There are 11,238,513 ways to draw five white balls from a drum of 69 balls. Multiply that by the 26 red balls, and there are a total of 292,201,338 possible Powerball tickets.
At $2 for each ticket, then, it would be possible to buy every possible ticket for $584,402,676. As a journalist, I don’t have that much money sitting around, but either a consortium of a few million Americans or a large and wealthy institution like a bank could conceivably assemble that level of cash.
With the sky-high jackpot in play, this actually at first glance guarantees a profit—at least before taxes. Since in this scenario we’ve bought every ticket exactly once, we can see how much we will win based on the jackpot and the smaller prizes:
The Powerball Drawing’s Possible Outcomes, and Prizes If You’ve Bought Every Ticket Combination
Indeed, this is something of a conservative estimate. As we are buying another half-billion dollars’ worth of tickets, part of that money will be added into the jackpot pool.