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Powerball jackpot: Millions of number combos still unclaimed

By Matt Stevens

1:56 PM PDT, May 17, 2013

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In the run-up to what could be a record-setting Powerball jackpot, officials say that slightly more than half of the possible number combinations have been sold.

Though ticket sales are expected to continue steadily through Saturday, the figures as of Friday morning leave open the significant possibility that the jackpot will again roll over. California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said that if it does, players could by vying for a $1-billion jackpot next week.

The odds of winning Powerball are about 1 in 175 million, which means there are approximately 175 million possible number combinations. To win the jackpot, players must match five numbers along with the Powerball number.

Traverso said that on the night of the record-setting $656-million Mega Millions draw in March of 2012, about 95% of the number combinations had been claimed.

Because Powerball is a $2 game, officials said that the jackpots can rise faster with relatively fewer tickets – and number combinations – being sold.

“We have a darn good chance of seeing this thing roll,” said Richard Lustig, author of “Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.”

Lustig has won seven lottery game grand prizes and raked in more than $1 million. He generally discourages players from buying “Quick Pick” tickets – in which a computer randomly spits out a number combination.

Instead, he encourages players to pick a set of numbers, do research to see if it is a good set, and then play the same set during every draw.

But he said it’s too late for that now.

“Someone trying to get into the game at the last minute and win – they’re just foolish,” he said.  “This late in the game, write numbers on a wall and throw darts, and pick the first six numbers you hit.”  

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