Powerball payout puny

Posted: May 04, 2012

Now we know what unlucky numbers look like.

In last night’s Powerball drawing, 7, 8, 33, 38 and 50 came up, along with a Powerball of 29, producing one of the stingiest payouts in a year.

No one hit the jackpot. No one matched the first five numbers, so no one won the $1 million or $2 million prizes.

In Pennsylvania, nobody even won the $10,000 or $40,000 prizes. The biggest prize was $200, and only 21 tickets won that.

Nationwide, less than $2.6 million was won. In April, the average non-jackpot payout was almost $11 million.

Because no one landed the top prize, the jackpot rose for Saturday’s drawing to $60 million for the annuity, $37.5 million for the cash.

Mega Millions has nearly twice as much up for grabs Friday night: $118 million over 25 years, $86 million as a lump sum, because no one matched all of Tuesday’s numbers: 24, 27, 31, 45 and 52, with a Mega Ball of 38.

One factor in Powerball’s power outage is that high numbers tend to reduce winners, because of a preference to play special dates, like birthdays and anniversaries. For example, Saturday’s numbers were all high — 31, 39, 40, 57 and 58, with a Power Ball of 33 — and the payout was only $3.8 million, with only a single $1 million winner.

Last month’s biggest non-jackpot payout of $23.2 million happened April 7, when all the numbers were low enough to be calendar dates: 5, 13, 17, 20 and 30, with a Powerball of 18. Fourteen tickets matched the first five numbers, snagging a total of $19 million.

Even with “unlucky” 13.

Tickets sales, which rise with jackpot size, are another factor. But April 7’s $80 million jackpot was far from the highest of the month. A jackpot worth $172.7 million was hit April 25 by a ticket sold at the Newsstand at the Gallery in Philadelphia. A group of SEPTA workers reportedly won that. The non-jackpot payout was $16.5 million, a small fraction of the grand prize.

For more on lotteries, go to Philly.com’s lotteries page, the Pennsylvania Lottery website, or the New Jersey Lottery website.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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