Powerball Jackpot Just Shy of $2 Billion, Attracts Many Bay Area Players

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The Powerball is just shy of $2 billion Monday and it’s attracting those who won’t normally play the game.

Many bought tickets at a 76 gas station in San Leandro after someone won $1.1 million over the weekend. 

Those who bought tickets Monday hoped lightning would strike the same place twice, and they're already dreaming about what to do with the winnings.

While some are convinced they're now holding the golden ticket, others are wondering how the game has gone 40 rounds without somebody winning.

“I got seven tickets here, so I'm hoping that is God's lucky number so hopefully I will be a lucky man,” said Derrick Johnson.

“I’m kind of tired of getting tickets, you know? I just told my husband we spent $60 already on this,” said Liz Ronningen. 

UC Berkeley Statistics Professor Philip Stark said a smaller fraction of the needed combination of numbers have been sold then in years past, dropping winners chances.

Stark also said that current interest rates mean that any winner might have to think a little longer about whether to take a lump sum or go for the 30-year payout.

“The cash value is still something less than a billion dollars, not that that is a small amount but the really big number is from interest on the payout,” he said. “If you take the payout overtime which relatively few people do.”

The California Lottery said a 2021 decision to add a third weekly drawing is also affecting your odds.  

“They did that in part to fuel these big jackpots and then honestly the excitement fuels that sales rush and it’s a bit of a cycle at the top,” said Carolyn Becker, California Lottery spokesperson. “Because the more tickets we sell, the higher the jackpot goes.”

While your chances are one in 292 million to win this record jackpot, experts expect with more people playing each time, a winner is likely to be crowned soon.  

“With more than 80% of possible combinations sold, there is more than an 80% chance that at least one person will win,” said Stark.

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to Dr. David Spiegel, Stanford psychiatrist, about what a Powerball jackpot of nearly $2 billion, does to the human brain.
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