Let’s put aside the astronomical chances that you somehow win both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots this week and have more than half-a-billion dollars laying around.
Sure, you could buy an island, take tons of trips to outer space or purchase an NFL team. Or have an Iron Man suit.
But why not do something fun, like fill 10 Olympic-size swimming pools with Grey Goose vodka-infused Jello?
Yes, I did the math. Yes, it’s probably not correct.
As of Thursday, the Iowa Lottery calculated the Powerball jackpot at $550 million while the Mega Millions jackpot has hit $418 million. Those totals are expected to increase by drawing time Friday for Mega Millions and Saturday for the Powerball.
But before you busy yourself wondering what color Jello to fill those pools with, I am obligated to remind lottery players of the odds of winning, and they are not in your favor.
Odds of winning the jackpot for the Powerball are one in 292 million. Odds of winning the Mega Millions is one in 302 million.
Odds of winning both are (to drive this home I’m hitting the ‘0’ on my keyboard each time with authority) one in 88,000,000,000,000,000.
Alas, we can dare to dream. Winning with those odds against you would certainly be worthy of being called the luckiest human on Earth, despite what Lou Gehrig said.
So unless you somehow know the numbers to pick, either because you’re psychic or a time traveler, it’s best to face facts and play responsibly.
On Thursday at the Broadway Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Kip Peterson was buying his usual two lottery tickets.
Peterson, who is an announcer at Iowa Western Community College sports events, said he would buy Iowa Western a football stadium with his winnings.
“Then, you know, golf and travel,” he said. He doesn’t play a specific set of numbers, but Peterson said he has the same chance everyone else does of winning.
Winning. Despite those longshot odds, someone eventually gets the lucky numbers. It could be Saturday, it could be next week. But someone will look upon the little scrap of paper and realize their lives have changed forever, probably while exclaiming several words I can’t print here.
Mary Neubauer, vice president of external relations with the Iowa Lottery, said if you have the winning jackpot ticket, there are a few things you should do before getting to the Iowa Lottery office in Clive and claiming a digital mountain of cash.
“Put the ticket somewhere really, really safe,” Neubauer said. “And go see a financial planner.”
It’s easier to make wise decisions about money before having said money, Neubauer added. Being able to talk to someone you can trust beforehand is important.
For smaller prizes, winners usually get a paper check at the lottery office before having their names released to the public. But for jackpots, the money is wire transferred directly into your bank account.
“We do our best to help the winner manage the information, and try to make it the best experience for them,” she said.
That being said, Neubauer encouraged players to enjoy the game responsibly.
Also, if you are psychic or a time traveler, please email me: I can’t find my keys.