Powerball is advertising that the expected jackpot for tonight’s drawing is $500 million and that there is a 1 in 175 million chance of matching all six numbers and winning a share of the jackpot. The ads are misleading because $500 million equals the undiscounted value of payouts received over a 30 year period, not the cash value, and assumes that the prize will not be shared. A more accurate description of the jackpot prize distribution is:

- A one in 476 million chance of winning $163.7 million (the jackpot is shared by two winners)
- A one in 479 million chance of winning $327.4 million (a single jackpot winner)
- A one in 947 million chance of winning $109.1 million (the jackpot is shared by three winners)
- A one in 2.82 trillion chance of winning $81.9 million (the jackpot is shared by four winners)
- A one in 11.23 trillion chance of sharing the jackpot among at least five winners

If the advertised jackpot increases to $600 million, a more accurate description of the jackpot prize distribution would be:

- A one in 539 million chance of winning $196.4 million (the jackpot is shared by two winners)
- A one in 682 million chance of winning $131.0 million (the jackpot is shared by three winners)
- A one in 852 million chance of winning $392.9 million (a single jackpot winner)
- A one in 1.29 trillion chance of winning $98.2 million (the jackpot is shared by four winners)
- A one in 3.27 trillion chance of sharing the jackpot among at least five winners

The most likely outcomes are that there will be a single winning ticket or the jackpot will be shared by two winners. As the advertised jackpot nears $600 million, it becomes much more likely that there will be at least a three-way split of the jackpot. Either way, the best strategy for lottery players is to choose a combination of six numbers that the other 200+ million lottery players won’t select.