Powerball and the Law of Accelerating Returns

Nobody won the $325 mill jackpot last night, so the the mania escalates for this Wednesday night’s Powerball.  Next drawing is Wednesday night, for an estimated $425 mill, its largest pot in history, eclipsing the record $365 mill awarded in 2006 to eight people in a meatpacking plant (say the latter phrase three times fast).

The odds of winning the whole enchilada?  1 in 175,223,510.  That’s right, I’ll say it again, spelled out this time.  One in one hundred and seventy five million, two hundred and twenty three thousand, five hundred and ten.  You have a better shot at … well, you can just about name your shot at having better odds at something.

There seems to be a little bit of a dispute among stat geeks, and here is one source that says your odds of winning on a $2 ticket are really more like 1 in 195,200,000.  You’ll find all kinds of tips out there about lottery winning, but I have devised a new fool’s method of selecting numbers using Shoot The Moon technology.

That enabled me to select what I believe will be this Wednesday’s winning Powerball ticket.  Of course, I can’t show you what the 6th column Powerball number is, because if, er … when I win … the chance to be able to donate to my favorite charities will force me to remain anonymous.

So how and why has the jackpot for Powerball been accelerating at such a non-linear rate over these past weeks since the last winner?  As one of my favorite futurists, Ray Kurzweil would explain, it’s all in the rate of  accelerating returns.  Although he doesn’t mention lotteries, exponential returns apply to lottery jackpots as much as they do to emerging technologies.

But you know about exponential growth in money.  It’s built into compounding interest and why your grandmother taught you to put money away today that will be worth a fortune years later – the inverse of lottery “investment”.

So put your wallet away, or if you’re going to take it out bet on something with better odds than Powerball like the Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series this coming year.  Or for a riskier bet, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series -though I’m not sure there’s a Poisson Distribution that would allow such an event to occur.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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