Biggest Lottery Prize Ever, Up For Grabs: $1.3B US

$1.3 billion American dollars is currently worth $1.84 billion Canadian dollars. Image: FBI Buffalo Field Office
$1.3 billion American dollars is currently worth $1.84 billion Canadian dollars. Image: FBI Buffalo Field Office

How would you like to win $1.3 billion?* What would you do with all that money, if you did win?

Someone may have to answer that question next Wednesday, when the US’s Powerball Lottery numbers are chosen.

UPDATE: The Powerball lottery numbers were drawn on Wednesday (8-27-34-4-19 and 10) and three winning ticket-holders will in California, Tennessee and Florida will divide up the jackpot, which eventually rose to $1.6B U.S.

In this case, a “lottery” is a game people can play to try and win money. In most states in the US, people can pay $2 for a Powerball ticket, which lets them choose six numbers. On Wednesdays, the Powerball Lottery organization chooses six random numbers. If your ticket matches those numbers, you win the prize (also known as “the jackpot”).

At $1.3B, this week’s Powerball Lottery jackpot is the largest of any lottery jackpot in history. By comparison, the largest Canadian jackpot ever was $64 million, last October.

Last week, the jackpot was more than $900 million but no one had the winning ticket with the numbers 16-19-32-24-57 and the “Powerball” number 13. In the Powerball lottery, you have to get all six numbers correct to win the big money.

Only adults over the age of 18 (in Canada) are legally allowed to buy lottery tickets. But if you were able to buy a ticket, what is the likelihood that your ticket would win the Powerball lottery? Very slim, according to information from the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball lottery. Your “odds” of winning would be about one in 292.2 million.

That means that for every 292.2 million tickets, one ticket might (but not necessarily) win. If you picture 292.2 million people in a field, how likely is it that you would be the one—out of all those people–selected to win? Not very likely.

Still, people are lining up in droves in American cities to buy a $2 ticket. They feel it’s a small investment—for a very big possible pay-off. Although it’s not likely that they will win, some people say it’s exciting just to know that their numbers could come up.

Many people are against lotteries because they say it’s a form of gambling, which some people can become addicted to—they start, and become so hooked on trying to win that they find it almost impossible to stop. A gambling addiction can be very serious, as the person spends more and more of their hard-earned money to chase after a dream that is not very likely to come true. Organizations like Gamblers Anonymous help people who are “compulsive gamblers.”

“For some people, gambling can become as serious an addiction as drugs, tobacco, or alcohol,” according to the website.

Some lotteries give some of the money they make to various funds including charities. For instance, in Canada a government organization, the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, runs lotteries such as Lotto 6/49. The prize for that lottery each week is usually between $100,000 and $500,000, according to Wikipedia. Last year, the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation gave millions of dollars to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for various charities and to sponsor amateur athletes in Ontario.**

*That’s $1.3 billion American dollars, which are currently worth more than Canadian dollars. $1.3 billion US is the same as $1.84 billion Canadian.

Related links
Gamblers Anonymous is an organization that helps people who have become addicted to gambling.

Check out this interesting TKN story about a man who gave away his entire $40 million lottery prize to charity.

**Interesting charts by the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG), showing “where the money goes” from lotteries—meaning the profits, not the prizes.‘s informative page for teens about gambling.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Today’s article starts by asking,

How would you like to win $1.3 billion? What would you do with all that money, if you did win?

Well, how would you?

Reading Prompt: Elements of Style

A rhetorical question is a question that an author asks his/her reader, without expecting a response. A rhetorical question is a technique that authors use to grab the attention of their readers.

Today’s article begins with two rhetorical questions,

How would you like to win $1.3 billion?* What would you do with all that money, if you did win?

Were the rhetorical questions used in today’s article successful? Did they pull in your attention and make you curious about what the rest of the article might be about?

Identify some elements of style, including voice, word choice, and different types of sentences, and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Language Feature: Rhetorical Question
If you were asked to replace the two rhetorical questions of your own to start the article, what would they be? Why would your rhetorical questions be successful at sparking the reader’s interest?

  1. ____________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________