PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Powerball fever is spreading and tonight’s jackpot is one of the biggest ever at $360 million.
Just about everyone is getting their hands on a ticket, but what are the odds of you actually winning?
We’ve done stories in the past on what people would do if they won the jackpot, but let’s try something more analytical, educational and statistical.
John Mackey is the Director of Undergraduate Studies of Mathematics at CMU.
Professor Mackey thinks about numbers as much KDKA-TV’s Ross Guidotti thinks about food – and that’s a lot.
So, Guidotti asked him to give us the odds of hitting the number on the Powerball and about lucky tickets.
“There’s no such thing as luck. There’s actually a deterministic universe,” Mackey said.
But, what are the chances?
“You got a better chance of going to the moon,” Mackey said.
We’ve been there, done that and besides, we don’t even have a manned space program anymore. What else does it compare to?
“The probability of 1-in-175 million is approximately the same as flipping a coin 28 times in a row and getting heads,” Mackey said.
Guidotti gave it a shot, but came up tails on the third flip.
“Ah sorry, you’re a loser,” Mackey said.
What about another sports-related example involving the Steelers?
“What would the odds be of them winning 29 games in row? They are about 1-in-175 million,” Mackey said.
But can someone with a math mind and computer untie this gambling knot? If all things come down to math, what’s the formula to win?
“There is no way to game this particular system. So, you might as well just have fun,” Mackey said.