No Powerball Winner Means Jackpot Swells to $550M

PHOTO: A customer purchases lottery tickets for the Powerball lottery at Foster Stationery in Bergenfield, N.J., Nov. 24, 2012.
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The Powerball jackpot has soared to $550 million after no tickets matched Wednesday night's drawing.

The $550 million jackpot ranks as the second-largest for Powerball and third biggest overall. The cash option is an estimated $350 million and the next drawing is Saturday night.

The winning numbers for the Wednesday drawing: 2, 11, 26, 34, 41 and a Powerball of 32. Not everyone walked away from the $360 million jackpot a loser. Tickets in Delaware and Pennsylvania won $5 million and there were 16 states that had $1 million winners, according to Powerball's website.

Powerball's largest jackpot to date was $587.5 million. It was awarded last November when a couple from Dearborn, Mo., and a man from Fountain Hills, Ariz., split the winnings.

The last big Powerball jackpot that made headlines was claimed in March when Pedro Quezada, 44, of New Jersey cashed his ticket worth a cool $338 million.

The price of a Powerball ticket doubled in January 2012. "We moved Powerball from being a $1 game to $2," says Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman for the Iowa-based lottery. "We thought at the time that this would mean bigger and faster-growing jackpots."

When pots reach record levels, say lottery officials, phone calls start coming in from all around the world to Powerball's Iowa headquarters. "We start getting inquiries from Canada and Europe from people wanting to know if they can buy a ticket," Neubauer told ABC News. "They ask if they can FedEx us the money."

The answer is: "Sorry, no. You have to buy a ticket in a member state from a licensed retail location."

About 80 percent of players don't choose their own Powerball number, opting instead for a computer-generated one. Asked if there's anything players can do to improve their odds of winning, lottery officials say no -- apart from buying a ticket, of course.

They put the odds of winning tonight's Powerball pot at one in 195 million, meaning you are 251 times more likely to be hit by lightning.

Skip Garibaldi, a professor of mathematics at Emory University in Atlanta, provides additional perspective: You are more likely to die from all of the following than you are to win tonight's drawing: be hit by a falling coconut, be blown up by fireworks, or be eaten by flesh-eating bacteria.

Even though he knows the odds all too well, Garibaldi says that he has played past lotteries. "When it gets big, I'll buy a couple of tickets. It's kind of exciting. You get this feeling of anticipation. You get to think about the fantasy."

Writing for the New York Post, Garibaldi recently reviewed the book "Brain Trust," in which 93 scientists give advice on subjects that include how to win the lottery.

Their advice, he says, includes the following:

-Pick the most unpopular numbers. Avoid, for example, numbers thought to be "lucky," such as 7, 13, 23 and 32.

-Don't pick the number 1. It's on about 15 percent of all tickets.

-Do pick the "especially overlooked" number 46.

Garibaldi's own advice: Look for a jackpot that's rolled over at least five times yet still remains below $40 million. And be sure not to overlook state lotteries, which have fewer people competing for their pots.

ABC News' Anthony Castellano contributed to this report.

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