Powerball jackpot hits $220M, will you play?

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PHOENIX – With an estimated jackpot of $220 million for Wednesday Powerball night’s drawing, people all over the country, including right here in Phoenix, are pinning their dreams on $1 and the whim of a computer.

As people watch the volatile stock market with dread, the lottery is providing a spark of hope in a still-struggling economy. The thought that $1 could change everything is a powerful motivator to buy a ticket.

When it comes to choosing numbers. There are three ways to do it. You can let the computer choose for you; you can select your own numbers; or you can do a combination in which you pick either the white numbers or the red Powerball and let the computer choose the rest.

The majority of those who do play Powerball let the computer draw their numbers for them, and the majority of winning tickets are Quick Pick numbers.

For those who pick their numbers themselves, the 10 most-drawn balls are 20, 41, 32, 22, 7, 37, 49, 52, 38 and 42. The most-drawn red ball is 23. The five least-drawn numbers are 29, 35, 2, 25 and 3. The least-drawn red ball is 28.

Not to crush anyone’s hope, but the odds of winning the grand prize are about 1 in 195,249,054. A chance is a chance, right? According to the Arizona Lottery, the overall odds of winning any Powerball prize are about 1 in 35. There are nine payout levels ranging from $3 to $200,000 plus, of course, the big jackpot.

With those odds, some say the lottery is a better bet than Wall Street.

"I won't count on Wall Street right now. I've seen what's been going on. It's quite scary," said Marlin Hurt as he bought his Powerball ticket. "I'd rather take my chances right now with the Powerball, especially with over $200 million. I could definitely use that."

He's not alone.

Powerball, which has been played in Arizona since 1994, also is played in 41 other states, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.

You have until 6:59 p.m. to buy your ticket for Wednesday’s drawing. If there is no winning ticket, the jackpot will roll over to Saturday’s drawing. If the jackpot is won, it will reset to $20 million for Saturday.

If you win the jackpot, you have 60 days to choose either a 30-year annuity or a lump-sum cash payment of about half of the announced jackpot. In this case, that’s a cool $110 million. The majority of jackpot winners since 2003 have opted for the lump-sum payment. Four of those winners – one each in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010 -- were from Arizona.

There have been seven jackpot winners so far this year. The most recent winning ticket, which is from the June 29 draw, was purchased in Georgia, but the jackpot has not been claimed yet.

The jackpot has rolled 11 times since that drawing.

While $220 million is not chump chance, it's nowhere near the largest jackpot the Powerball has ever handed out. According to the Arizona Lottery, the biggest Powerball jackpot in history was $365 million.

What would you do if you won the $220 million Powerball jackpot? Share you comments below.