The odds of winning Powerball are one in 292,201,338. We know, we know, that means that we probably won’t win. But how does the math really work out? What if we spent $1,000 on tickets? Or $10,000? What if we spent a year’s salary–or even millions of dollars on the game of chance?
The LA Times put together a superb lottery simulator to answer just that question. It will start you with $100 in free tickets, then offer you the opportunity to invest $1,000, a paycheck’s worth, or a seemingly infinite amount of virtual money in Powerball tickets to see how your luck pans out.
Spoiler: It never does. I played a similar simulator once for the equivalent of 1,000 years, and while I won some low-level lotteries, the losses always compounded several times my investments. Buying $1,302 of lotto tickets on the LA Times’s simulator, I actually won $203 dollars! But I lost $1,099 in the process.
Of course, the joy of playing Powerball when it reaches such astronomical proportions isn’t that you’ll actually walk away a billionaire. It’s that, for $2, you can buy the most perfect, evanescent fantasy. And as an added bonus, you do get to make someone else’s dream come true–lucky jerk.