You may have heard that the lottery has now reached a jackpot of more than a billion dollars. That’s twice as big a payout as the previous record, and accordingly millions of people are lining up to fork over $2 for a ticket. In some states, retailers were moving $1.2 million in Powerball ticket sales every minute.
The size of the potential winnings — still a cool $800 million even if you choose to take a lump sum payment over annuities — has been inspiring a lot of chatter on social media, which is where we run into our problem:
As of publication, this image had more than 800,000 shares on Facebook, and it’s just one of hundreds popping up on everyone’s News Feeds this week.
Predictably, the comments on these posts are pits of despair, a mix of people pointing out the faulty math and people arguing that no, the math makes total sense, you’re the one that’s wrong, get a calculator stupid. It’s a real-time reenactment of this classic tête-à-tête that gained a lot of attention on Reddit several months ago. (Trigger warning: will elicit severe headdesk-ing).
But who am I to judge? After all, I’ve thrown my two bucks into a pot I have a 1 in 292,200,000 chance of winning.