What It Takes To Win The Powerball: By The Numbers

Want to win the lottery? Go it alone and be aged 50 or older, according to a Vocativ analysis

Those smiles are worth a million million dollars. — (Getty Images)
Jan 06, 2016 at 4:24 PM ET

Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is worth half a billion dollars. You have virtually no chance of winning (but if you’re dashing out to get a ticket, grab one for us, too?) But first, read this: Vocativ looked at all of 2015’s grand prize winners and broke down the numbers that most commonly win the jackpot.

Grand prize winners had the numbers 7, 11, 13 and 17 on their tickets most often in 2015. Those four numbers appeared on jackpot tickets four times each—followed by 12, 16 and 42, with three appearances on grand prize winning tickets apiece.

You’ve got your numbers, but there are other factors. Here’s what the most likely winner looks like, and what you’ll probably take home if you strike it rich.

If you were looking to win the lottery in 2015, you were more likely to be successful if you did it alone. Nine of last year’s 14 winners who revealed their identities were individuals who got to keep their millions and millions of dollars all to themselves.

Based on last year’s winners who chose to release their names, you were not more likely to win if you were a man or a woman, as equal numbers of both genders took home the Powerball grand prize.

Many of 2015’s winners had partners and/or children, but several others either did not have kids or chose not to mention them during interviews after their win.

Of the winners who disclosed their age last year, four were 50 or older and one winner was as old as 62. Only one winner was younger than 40.

Powerball grand prizes averaged $152m last year, but that’s misleading: The non-profit, government-benefit association advertises grand prizes before federal and state taxes are taken and assuming participants take their winnings as an annuity, consisting of 30 annual payments that increase over time, instead of a lump sum cash payment immediately upon winning, which is typically a far lower payout, if still considerable.

Every single grand prize winner took the lump sum option in 2015. If you take the lump sum, you’ll owe income tax on the entire amount in the same year you’re paid your winnings, pushing you into the upmost tax bracket and leaving you with a fraction of the advertised grand prize. Why did every single jackpot winner last year take the lump sum over the annuity? While you’ll pay less taxes over time with an annuity, there’s no guarantee taxes won’t be raised at some point in the future. There’s every chance Powerball could go out of business, and according to one financial advisor, you’re more likely to wind up with more money if you take the lump sum and invest it.