Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games in the United States, offering jackpots that routinely climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Many people dream of winning it big by buying a Powerball ticket with the winning numbers. But have you ever wondered: How much would it cost to buy every possible Powerball number combination? Could someone actually buy all the potential number combinations and guarantee a jackpot win? Let’s take a look at the math behind covering every number possibility for Powerball and see how feasible it would be to buy them all.

## How Powerball Works

First, it’s helpful to understand how Powerball works. A Powerball ticket costs $2. To play, a player selects five main numbers from 1-69, and one Powerball number from 1-26. The main numbers and Powerball number make up a player’s number combination. Powerball drawings are held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. To win the jackpot, a player must match all five main numbers and the Powerball. The odds of this happening are incredibly small—about 1 in 292 million. But a player has a 1 in 25 chance of winning a smaller prize for matching just the Powerball number or getting a partial match of the main numbers.

## Number of Possible Powerball Combinations

So how many potential number combinations are there in Powerball? The math is pretty straightforward:

- There are 69 possible choices for the first main number.
- There are 68 possible remaining choices for the second main number after the first is chosen.
- There are 67 possible remaining choices for the third number, and so on.
- There are 26 possible choices for the Powerball number.

Multiplying these numbers together gives us:

69 x 68 x 67 x 66 x 65 x 26 = 292,201,338 possible Powerball number combinations

So there are over 292 million different number combinations in Powerball. For perspective, that’s more possibilities than there are people living in the entire United States.

## Cost to Buy All the Combinations

Now for the big question: How much would it cost to purchase every single one of the 292 million+ potential Powerball tickets?

Since each Powerball ticket costs $2, we simply need to multiply the number of combinations by $2:

292,201,338 combinations x $2 per ticket = $584,402,676

Therefore, the total cost to purchase every possible Powerball number combination is $584 million.

To put it another way, you’d need about $585 million at your disposal to guarantee a jackpot win in Powerball by buying up every potential number combination.

## Is it Feasible to Buy All the Tickets?

While $584 million is certainly a huge amount of money, there are actually people with the means to afford buying every Powerball combination. The bigger issue is the logistics of physically purchasing 292 million tickets.

Let’s break this down:

- There are two Powerball drawings per week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Sales cut off about 1.5 hours before each drawing.
- That means there are approximately 3 hours available to purchase tickets before each drawing.
- To purchase all 292 million combinations within a 3 hour window would require buying around 97 million tickets per hour.
- That comes out to about 1.6 million tickets per minute, or 27,000 tickets per second!

The speed and manpower required to print and process 27,000 Powerball tickets each second is just not realistic. Even if you had unlimited money, the logistics make it virtually impossible to purchase every combination for a single drawing.

And buying all the possible combinations for both the Wednesday and Saturday drawings each week would essentially double the required ticket purchasing speed.

## Has Anyone Tried to Buy All Combinations?

While no one has ever succeeded in buying every Powerball combination, some people have tried:

- In 1992, an Australian consortium tried to buy all 7 million potential combinations for the Virginia lottery. They purchased over 5 million tickets but failed to buy every combination before the sales deadline.
- In 2003, an Iraqi man named Yasser Arafat tried to rig the Michigan lottery by having associates purchase $2 million worth of tickets. But they were only able to buy about 102,000 tickets, far short of the over 8 million potential combinations.
- In 2011, a Chinese syndicate claimed they would spend $600 million to buy all 176 million EuroMillions combinations. But there is no evidence they ever followed through on the plan.

While it’s theoretically possible to buy every lotto combination, the logistics and timing make it extremely difficult in practice. The closest real-world attempts have fallen well short.

## Should You Try to Buy Every Powerball Number?

Trying to purchase every possible Powerball number is almost certainly a fool’s errand. The timing constraints mean you would need a small army just to print and process tickets fast enough before sales cut-off. And coordinating the purchase would also be enormously challenging.

While the $584 million price tag to buy every combination may seem huge, keep in mind the advertised jackpots themselves can grow larger than that. On January 13, 2016 the Powerball jackpot reached a record $1.586 billion. But rest assured, that billion-dollar prize was awarded to just one extremely lucky single ticket holder, not someone who somehow managed to buy every possible number.

Realistically, the only way to guarantee a Powerball jackpot win would be to somehow hack into the lottery’s computer systems and rig the drawing. But that would be illegal and unethical.

Like all lotteries, Powerball is meant to be based on random chance. Attempting to corner the market on number combinations defeats the spirit and intention of the game. Lottery officials likely would notice and take action if someone made a serious attempt at buying excessive number combinations.

## Lottery Odds Comparison

To highlight just how improbable winning the Powerball jackpot is, let’s compare the odds to some other unlikely events:

Event | Odds of Occurring |
---|---|

Match all 5 main numbers + Powerball in Powerball | 1 in 292,201,338 |

Win an Olympic gold medal | 1 in 662,000 |

Date a supermodel | 1 in 88,000 |

Get struck by lightning in your lifetime | 1 in 15,300 |

Bowl a 300 game | 1 in 11,500 |

Flip a coin and get heads 28 times in a row | 1 in 268,435,456 |

As you can see, your odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are exceedingly low compared to many other rare events. The odds of randomly matching all six numbers are significantly worse than your chance of bowling a perfect 300 game or dating a supermodel. Heck, you are more likely to be struck by lightning sometime in your life than win the Powerball jackpot.

## Playing Strategically

Since buying up every possible Powerball number combination is logistically impossible, what’s the best way to strategically play for sensible lottery enthusiasts?

First, you can improve your odds slightly by only playing during the drawings when the jackpot is especially big. The larger prize means more players purchasing tickets, which pushes the odds higher that no winner will be selected. This allows the jackpot to grow for subsequent drawings.

Second, you can form a lottery pool or syndicate, where you team up with other players to purchase more number combinations. For a relatively small investment, each member of the group gets additional coverage of the possibility space. Statistically, a lottery pool has a better cumulative shot at winning compared to lone players with just a couple of tickets each.

And third, you can use statistics to choose numbers strategically. Avoid picking all numbers under 31, as many people play their birth years or anniversaries. You can look for more “unpopular” numbers that are chosen less frequently, which slightly decreases competition if those numbers hit. And you should avoid consecutive numbers or multiples (like 8, 16, 24, etc), as they also tend to be chosen less often.

## Is Powerball Math Even Relevant?

In reality, the meticulous math about Powerball probabilities and number combinations is all somewhat moot. That’s because the Powerball drawing is based on five numbered balls being randomly selected from the main pool of 69, and then one numbered ball being selected from 26 for the Powerball. It’s purely random chance driven by the laws of physics as the balls bounce around the machine.

Analyzing all the possible number combinations and buying large amounts of tickets can improve your odds to an extremely tiny degree. But the mathematical chance of any specific number combination occurring is always going to be 1 in 292 million. Whether a single person buys one ticket or an entire group buys hundreds of tickets, probability theory and the laws of randomness still apply.

At the end of the day, the lucky Powerball player who matches all five main numbers plus the Powerball does so through sheer dumb luck. While buying up more potential number combinations can incrementally increase your odds, a single Powerball ticket still has the exact same chance of winning the jackpot as any other.

## Conclusion

In summary, buying up every possible Powerball number combination would cost around $584 million—certainly no small chunk of change. But the logistical challenges of purchasing almost 300 million tickets within the tight time window before each drawing make buying up every combination virtually impossible. Attempts to buy massive amounts of tickets have failed in real life.

While you can take some steps like joining a lottery pool to incrementally improve your slim odds, winning the Powerball ultimately requires an immense amount of luck. The random nature of the drawing means that any single ticket has the exact same improbable chance of hitting the jackpot. No amount of meticulous mathematical analysis can change those simple odds. So the next time the Powerball jackpot grabs headlines, enjoy the excitement and know that someone—maybe even you—will end up incredibly lucky with a life-changing prize.