The Powerball lottery is getting fatter – climbing to an estimated $1.3 billion jackpot by the next drawing Wednesday – but hasn’t matched “El Gordo” in Europe.

Nobody matched the winning numbers Saturday of 16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball number 13.

No shame in that. The odds of winning the largest prize in U.S. lottery history were one in 292.2 million.

But that’s a simple calculation about how many combinations of numbers there are – so the odds don’t get any worse as more people participate and the jackpot continues to grow.

Scott Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, says your tiny odds improve a bit if you let the computer pick your numbers rather than choosing them yourself.

Patti McFadden of Fort Myers, a lottery-playing veteran, said before Saturday’s drawing that she was visiting multiple Powerball sellers to improve her chances.

“So far I’ve purchased 10 tickets,” McFadden said. “I’ll probably get a few more before the drawing.”

Anndrea Smith, 30, the manager of Bucky’s gas station and convenience store in Omaha, Neb., told The Associated Press that she sold about $5,000 worth of tickets Saturday — including a few to herself. That total compares to a typical $1,200 sold on a Friday, she said.

“I bought four yesterday, and I usually never buy any,” Smith said.

The latest estimate of $1.3 billion would be twice as large as the biggest previous U.S. lottery prize from March 30, 2012, when Mega Millions paid $656 million for three tickets from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The total would also more than double the $590.5 million that Powerball paid May 18, 2013, for one ticket in Florida.

But the latest Powerball prize would still be dwarfed by Spain’s Christmas lottery nicknamed “El Gordo,” or “the fat one,” that distributed $2.4 billion last month.

Despite the slim odds of winning, Powerball is generating frenzied sales of the $2 tickets for the Wednesday drawing.


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The Powerball jackpot has reached $900 million, the largest lottery prize in the U.S. history, after frenzied buy-ins across the country.
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