Powerball used to have a jackpot limit. Then it exploded into a $1 billion annual pot that attracted the best free agents in history.
That year, the prize was $900 million, which would make the most powerful player in the world a million-dollar winner.
But as technology changed how we bet and moved money around, suddenly the odds had shifted, which meant some numbers were much bigger than before.
And what should win out was the amount you bet on the lottery.
Not only do we know it was the jackpot the year Bill Bradley won, we know his odds were about to be so big they were evened out by a new computer algorithm.
But we know there’s more.
We know that the other players who filled out the ticket got $5. And we know more than just players.
We know who got that $5 prize, who won the jackpot and by how much.
We know how much the $800 million winner paid for the ticket. But we don’t know how much any of the other winners of that $900 million were paid.
That’s because the lottery’s players don’t know each other very well.
It’s an odd arrangement in which one group has to reveal their identity in order to prove they actually won the jackpot.
As it turns out, players get paid for all the other players, who are paid for all the players.
Lucky numbers determine winners
So, as we learned last year, there’s a lot going on when players choose which numbers to roll.
We were talking to a computer scientist named Thomas Gabor.
“You know how the numbers you choose for a lottery ticket determine winners,” he told us.
Each player gets 11 numbers to roll. Those numbers make up the final combination.
But as you pick them in turn, you need them in the proper sequence.
So, one roll of a particular “sixteen” ticket — i.e. a 6-1-2-