The Star Early Edition

US lottery prize up to R21bn


LOS ANGELES: No one won Saturday’s record jackpot of nearly $950 million (R15.5 billion) in the multi-state US Powerball lottery, officials said, driving the haul for a winning ticket in the next draw to $1.3bn (R21.2bn).

“Since nobody won tonight’s staggering $947.8 million jackpot, it has rolled to an estimated $1.3bn for January 13,” said a statement from officials in California, one of the 44 states, together with Washington DC and two US territorie­s, that participat­e in Powerball.

The grand prize for Powerball has climbed steadily for weeks after repeated drawings produced no big winners. Last week, ticket purchases surged along with the size of the jackpot.

The grand prize in Saturday’s drawing was worth $558m for a winner choosing an immediate cash payout instead of annual payments over 29 years, according to lottery officials in California, one of the participat­ing states.

The prize, which rises with every draw in which the winning series of six numbers is not won, ranked as the largest jackpot for any lottery in North American history. With almost unimaginab­le riches at stake, many Americans who normally shun lotteries joined the long lines of people buying tickets at retail stores across the country.

California normally sees Powerball sales of $1m a day, but on Saturday morning sales were $2.8m an hour, said California Lottery spokesman Mike Bond.

Excitement swirled among ticket buyers despite what some statistici­ans call mind-boggling odds for the Powerball game, one in 292 million.

Jeffrey Miecznikow­ski, associate professor of biostatist­ics at the University at Buffalo, said an American is roughly 25 times more likely to become the next president of the US than to win at Powerball. Or to put it another way, the odds are equivalent to flipping a coin 28 times and getting heads every time.

“It doesn’t sound so bad… but you would be at it for an eternity,” Miecznikow­ski said. – Reuters

Americans in a frenzy but there is still no winner

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