You have no chance of winning the Powerball jackpot. Zero. Zip. Zilch. But if you were to win, you’d come away with a cool $1.5 billion — enough money to purchase a small island nation or pay off your student loan. The Powerball jackpot, which had already reached an all-time high of $900 million last time around, has now risen to $1.5 billion. At least, as CNN points out, a winner who chooses to collect the jackpot in annual payments will receive that much; the immediate cash payout is a mere $930 million.
Why is the pot so big this time? Primarily because the odds of winning the jackpot are so terrible. A rule change by the Multi-State Lottery Association back in October 2015 made the already bad odds of winning the jackpot even worse: They went from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292.2 million. In other words, the jackpot has increasingly been designed to be victorless. (On the plus side, it’s now easier than ever to win those coveted $4 prizes! That’ll buy you at least a latte, maybe with an extra shot.)
The next drawing is on Wednesday, and there’s a good chance that this one, too, will leave the jackpot unclaimed. As Chas Danner noted here earlier this week, the pot will continue to multiply until it’s claimed, potentially leading to even more unprecedented jackpot totals — and unprecedented spending on lottery tickets.