August 26th, 2001

Foolish Powerball Players

I read on MSNBC.com that factory workers in Tennessee chipped in $24,000 to buy Powerball tickets.

They didn't say what kind of factory it was, but I assume they weren't manufacturing calculators.

With that investment, the odds skyrocted from 1 in 80,089,128 to 1 in 3,337. Practically a sure thing. For poker players, those are about the same odds of being dealt four of a kind as a pat hand.

Don't feel too bad for them. Their investment was likely to yeild some winning tickets. They were likely to win 324 $3 tickets, 203 $4 tickets, 154 $7 tickets, and 5 $100 tickets. Total winnings: about $3,362. Return on investment: 14%.

$20,638 wasted. They'd have been better off going to Vegas and putting it all on the roulette wheel. The odds are 1 in 38, and the payoff would have been $864,000.