Powerball $200m draw: Cash-strapped Aussies splurging in hope of life-changing win

With the largest prize pool ever up for grabs, half of Aussie adults are set to pick up a ticket.

Aussies may be skipping haircuts and cutting back on smashed avos in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, but one thing they're unlikely to give up is the dream of winning big as they rush to buy tickets in tonight's record $200m Powerball draw.

Officials at The Lott are expecting up to half of Australian adults — that’s about 10 million people — to have bought an entry chasing the life-changing jackpot.

And not much has changed in the demand for tickets for big jackpots, despite the steady spike in mortgage payments and costs at the supermarket checkout. “The participation rate doesn’t vary after Powerball reaches $100 million or more,” a spokesperson for The Lott told Yahoo News Australia.

A hand holding a Powerball lotto ticket in front of people celebrating.
Thursday night's Powerball jackpot has skyrocketed to $200 million – making it the biggest lottery draw in Aussie history. Source: The Lott

“To give an indication of the excitement around the nation last week, the peak of sales for the $150 million Powerball draw was at 6.15pm on Thursday when more than 7,400 entries were sold within a single minute.

“We advise players to play within their means and gamble responsibly."

The Powerball multi-millionaire dream

One person not surprised that Aussies are still spending money on lottery tickets while struggling with the cost of living is Associate Professor Andrew Grant from the University of Sydney’s Business School.

He says there’ll always be those who play every week with the same numbers, as well as those who only have a punt when the prize pool hits a certain point.

“Gambling is somewhat spread across the distribution of Australia's socio economic levels,” Professor Grant explained, “with people in both lower and higher socioeconomic areas likely to spend money on lottery tickets".

“I think for people, especially those who aren't doing well economically, they probably need to have some sort of hope that they can get out of their difficult situation. Purchasing a lottery ticket gives them some sort of small dream or potential way out in their minds at the very least."

A hand picking up blue Powerball balls.
More than half of Australia's adult population is expected to have a punt in tonight's Powerball draw - that's about 10 million people. Source: The Lott

Is that hope healthy?

For most of us, winning the lottery is likely to be our only chance of ever becoming a millionaire, or even multimillionaire.

“If you’re not really wealthy, if you don’t have particular skills, if you aren’t being paid a lot of money, and if you haven't got the chance to inherit a lot of money, this might be your only option,” Professor Grant said. “So that dream might be worth the small cost that you’re going to put on it. Even if it’s unlikely that you’re ever going to win."

“People just like to have the possibility that they may win and that keeps them going,” Professor Grant added. “Now, is that an irrational thought for people to have? Probably not. And at the end of the day, I guess you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.”