Eyeing $600M Powerball jackpot? You have better chance of death by lightning

Story highlights

  • Powerball jackpot rises to $600 million, with cash value of $377 million
  • No one matched winning numbers in Wednesday night's Powerball drawing
  • Largest jackpot in U.S. history was $656 million in Mega Millions game in 2012

The multi-state Powerball jackpot has risen to $600 million, with a cash value of $376.9 million, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association.

The jackpot marks the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, after no one matched the winning numbers in Wednesday night's draw.

Wednesday's jackpot in the multistate lottery was $360 million. The numbers were 2, 11, 26, 34 and 41 with a Powerball of 32.

Saturday's jackpot will be the largest in the history of the Powerball game, surpassing a $587.6 million jackpot that was split by winners in Arizona and Missouri in November.

The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was $656 million in the Mega Millions game in March 2012. That was split by three tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

That mark will be dwarfed if no one wins the Powerball jackpot Saturday. If that happens, the jackpot will be about $925 million for Wednesday's drawing, according to Kelly Cripe, spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery, which is part of the multi-state lotteries.

The Powerball game is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A single ticket costs $2, and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510.

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And if that's a little too pricey for you, a Mega Millions ticket will cost you only $1. The jackpot for Friday's Mega Millions drawing will be at least $190 million, and the odds are almost the same, 1 in 175,711,536. Mega Millions is played in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jackpots in both games are based on payouts as annuities over 30 years. Players can choose a cash payout that will be less.

Why you keep playing the lottery

But before you start dreaming of that mansion in Barbados, allow us to pour an icy bucket of mathematical reality over your head: You almost certainly aren't going to win.

You stand a better chance of walking onto the golf course and hitting two consecutive holes in one than winning that jackpot.

Here are a few unlikely scenarios that, we're sorry to say, are much more likely than you taking home this jackpot.

From the Harvard School of Public Health:

-- Dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million.

-- Dying from a lightning strike: 1 in 3 million.

From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:

-- A golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million.

From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:

-- Hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely: 1 in 6,267.

From the National Weather Service:

-- Being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics:

-- Drowning and other beach-related fatalities: 1 in 2 million.

-- Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million.

That being said, some folks do snatch a jackpot from the jaws of improbability, one of them being Geneva, Illinois, resident Ricardo Cereza.

Cereza recently yanked some old lottery tickets out of a cookie jar at his house. One of them turned out to be an Illinois Lottery ticket worth $4.8 million, CNN affiliate WGN reported.

"When I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of, 'whoa, can this really be?'" Cereza told the station.

"So I called my son over and asked him to double-check this, and he looks it through and goes, 'Yep, looks like a winner,'" Cereza said.

The family will use the winnings to pay off the mortgage on their home, which was facing foreclosure, according to WGN.