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Powerball in California: 1-in-175-million chance? No problem

April 09, 2013|By Matt Stevens and Kate Mather

Californians no longer had to worry about crossing state lines for their 1-in-175-million shot at a Powerball win. The multi-state lottery game finally arrived here Monday.

John Apodaca, 62, of Hawthorne was part of one line. The veteran said that after he returned from Vietnam, a woman read his palm and said he would be a rich man — so he goes to the Bluebird Liquor store every day at the same time and plays the same numbers. He's there so often that an employee welcomed him with a salute.

Apodaca has played Powerball before — in New York, while visiting his daughter. The game's arrival in California was all he needed to feel a little extra luck Monday.

"The Powerball came to me," he said. "I didn't go to the Powerball this time."

 Powerball marks a further effort by the state lottery to go beyond Scratchers to larger games with much higher jackpots. Last year, the state lottery got a taste of possibilities when its Mega Millions multistate game grew to a $656-million prize. That game alone added $300 million in sales for the lottery over two months, resulting in a 27% increase in total revenue for the year.

Powerball is even larger than Mega Millions, with a starting jackpot that is more than three times as large. The games are similar — requiring players to match up to six numbers — and the odds of hitting the jackpot in each of the games are almost exactly the same: 1 in about 175 million.

"It sounds ridiculous to say, but if the jackpot is $56 million, it just doesn't motivate people the way a $656-million jackpot does," said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the state lottery.

Not far from Bluebird Liquor, a steady stream of customers filed into a 7-Eleven listed as a "lucky retailer" on the California Lottery website. Lisa Ray, 28, of Huntington Beach purchased her first lottery ticket, enticed by Powerball's higher payout.

Ray said, "$40 million? Come on!" adding that it probably wouldn't be her last time trying her luck.

"Why not?" she said. "Somebody's got to win."


Upping the odds

Powerball becomes the latest lottery game to play in California. How it compares:

Powerball Mega Millions SuperLotto Plus Odds of winning top prize 1 in 175,223,510 1 in 175,711,536 1 in 41,416,353 Odds of winning any prize 1 in 31.85 1 in 39.89 1 in 23 Drawing days Wed., Sat. Tues., Fri. Wed., Sat. Minimum ticket prize $2 $1 $1 Participating locations 43 states, plus D.C.
and Virgin Islands 42 states, plus D.C.
and Virgin Islands California only Minimum jackpot $40 million $12 million $7 million Lottery ticket sales

Sources: California Lottery, Powerball, Mega Millions. Note: Lottery ticket sales chart for fiscal years.

Graphics reporting by Scott J. Wilson


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