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Your Odds of Winning Powerball Explained

By  Nicole Levy and Nigel Chiwaya | January 12, 2016 7:19pm 

 A Powerball ticket is printed earlier this month.
A Powerball ticket is printed earlier this month.
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Getty/Scott Olson

Six little numbers could win you the largest-ever lottery prize in the country Wednesday evening.

The Powerball jackpot reached $1.5 billion Tuesday, with ticket sales surging across the U.S. after Saturday's drawing failed to produce a winner whose ticket had all six digits.

New York is one of 44 states that participate in the national lottery — the riches of which could go to a single ticket-holder.

While New Yorkers were lining up to select their lucky numbers, or to let a computer system spit some out on their behalf, we broke down the high-stakes scenario leading up to 10:59 p.m. Wednesday by a different set of figures, with help from the New York State Gaming Commission, which oversees the lottery.

► If you do manage to clinch the top prize and you want all $1.5 billion of it, you'll have to collect it in installments over the next 30 years. A winner who prefers a one-time cash payment will take home $930 million, before taxes. 

► Your pitiful odds of winning the Powerball jackpot with one ticket are 1 in 292 million. You're way more likely to be struck by lighting (the odds there are 1 in 960,000), and your chances of winning an affordable housing lottery — as inconceivable as that might be — are way, way higher, at about 1 in 834.

► Your odds of winning the entire jackpot are worse than they were before July 2015, when states participating in the lottery changed the amount of numbers one could bet on, making it easier for more participants to win smaller prizes, but harder for anyone to win the grand prize. That decision, as expected, increased the jackpot sizes, drove ticket sales, and — according to New York State Gaming Commission spokesperson Lee Park — made lower-tier prizes more attainable. 

► On that note, while no one claimed the grand prize on Saturday, 41 ticket buyers across New York state won sums between $50,000 and $1 million that day, Park told DNAinfo.

► Since the initial $40 million jackpot started growing on Nov. 4, the Powerball has racked up $182.8 million in ticket sales in New York state, Park said.

And that $182.8 million, amassed over two months, is equivalent to roughly 60 percent of the state's Powerball revenue for all twelve months of the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2015, which amounted to $305 million

► Of that $182.8 million total, $64 million is allocated for the funding of state public schools. (For some context, New York typically earmarks 30 percent of revenue earned through traditional lotteries — such as the Powerball and the New York Lotto — for aid to school systems in all counties.) 

► Before the drawing on Saturday evening, ticket sales in New York state were averaging 4.4 million tickets sold per hour

► From 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 36 hours in advance of Wednesday evening's drawing, 1.3 million Powerball tickets were sold in New York.

Our wish for you, dear readers: May the odds be ever in your favor.