The entire United States has been riveted the last few days by a ballooning Powerball lottery jackpot that has gone without a winner long enough that the next drawing will be for over a billion dollars. Like many Americans, I decided to spend a few of my dollars for the privilege of getting to fantasize about being a multi-millionaire for a little while (which was mostly “Man, the first thing I’d do is call a lawyer to determine the safest and most secure way to claim and invest the winnings!” I am a boring person) and happened to stumble on the FAQ section of the Powerball website while figuring out what, exactly, I’d signed up for.
First of all, you should know that the Powerball website was clearly designed in 1997 and has not been updated since. If you don’t believe me and are too lazy to clink on links, here’s your proof:
It’s almost endearing, in a way. Anyway, if you click through to the FAQ section, you get a very long section written by someone with a well developed sense of humor, a clear personality, and either a love for their job or at least dedication to providing good answers to bad questions. Observe:
MY NUMBERS ARE: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX; DID I WIN? We can’t check numbers for a million folks a week. You can check your numbers on the web site. Teach a man to fish.
IS THERE A SECRET TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING POWERBALL?
Yes. There is a way to improve your chance of winning the dual-drum games (Powerball, Mega-Millions, Hot Lotto, and Wild Card). But you have to promise to keep the secret - called THE BIG SECRET TO WINNING POWERBALL — between you and me.
First, we need to cover some things that don’t work. Swinging a live chicken above your head while wishing for the future numbers does NOT work. There is no improvement to be had by swinging a dead chicken. Although I have not tested it, swinging a bucket of extra crispy is not likely to work either. We have had winners who played their fortune cookie numbers - on two occasions - but such things are just bound to happen sometimes. It is also no good to follow the alignment of the planets or the arrangement of tea leaves or any other such thing. Any of these ideas will win sometimes, but that is just chance working its magic.
It is obvious that buying more tickets will help, but the odds are still high and hitting the jackpot is still a question of fate. The secret to the dual-drum games is that they pay a prize for matching just one number from the second drum. There are 35 numbers in Powerball’s second drum and so, if a group buys 35 tickets in the Powerball game, each with unique red Powerball number, then you are 100% guaranteed to win the $4 prize, at least. At first, that $4 might not seem like much, but if you think about it, you can see just how special this secret can be for a group. In a regular (pick 6) lotto game, a group can buy lots of tickets and sometimes never win anything. In Powerball (and the other dual-drum games), you can buy a set of tickets that will have a winner EVERY TIME. A lottery may occasionally offer special pricing on a ticket package, but why wait for the lottery to run a limited-time promotion? With this secret you can create your own discount (a rebate really) for EVERY draw.
This is a little pricy for most individual players, but if you are in a group you might consider covering all of the red balls.
I GOT AN EMAIL SAYING THAT I WON THE LOTTERY; IS IT LEGITIMATE?
NO. It is a common scam. We get over 100 emails letters and phone calls each week asking this question; and this has gone on for several years. We even get emails sent here telling us that we’ve won the Powerball. You never have to send money to collect a legitimate lottery prize. You should never reply to these emails. You should never send money to these people. You should never give your bank account number or your mother’s maiden name to anyone. You should never run with scissors. You may even be sent a check to cover the costs and then be asked to wire back some money. But the check will bounce (sometimes not for months and then you are charged with writing bad checks). It is best not to respond or you can be put on a list to receive other scams.
The joy continues on the real letters section of the site.
FROM Debora W: i don’t remember my powerball numbers. my name is debora w——
The number is on your Powerball ticket. Your ticket is under the seat of your car, between the seat and the car door.
FROM PJ: What is the strangest question you’ve ever received?
FROM ET: Send me something funny.
OK, maybe this one.
FROM BC: when a person wins the jackpot should they get a atternoy to deal with the state(s) lottery(IES) COMMISONS?
Yes. Ohhh, yes.
FROM Ron: I see no guarantee of an honest game on your website. Does Powerball guarantee players an honest game?
Anytime you see someone offer a guarantee of honesty, run.
If you’ve got some time to kill today, I highly recommend both pages. It is always a joy to encounter excellent and funny work in a medium and setting that does not require it. So I salute you, Powerball FAQ writer, for the time and effort you have put in. Thank you.