Playing Powerball with a group? Things you need to know first - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Playing Powerball with a group? Things you need to know first

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The Powerball jackpot is way up again, now ready to pay out an estimated $500 million. And when the number gets that high, more people play, and more groups of people play.

Friends, coworkers, even families will pool their money to increase the odds. But can that strategy back fire?

It has before when the person responsible for buying the winning ticket then told coworkers that the ticket was his personal selection, and not the group ticket.  Not all group lotto stories end that way.

There is a catchy song called "Calling In Rich." It's about a man who won the lottery, so he calls his boss to say he won't be back to work.  It's a real song written by one of 20 Quaker Oats workers in Iowa who shared a $241 million Powerball jackpot in June.

 And closer to home in Greensboro, 20 coworkers split one million dollars a few months ago.

At the Village Grocery in Salisbury, thought to be lucky by many players, clerk Shirley Caudle was busy selling Powerball tickets today.

"It's been a little bit busy, that's only normal, everybody is looking for that winning ticket," Caudle told WBTV.

She has sold some group tickets and always wonders if everyone will do as they should if that group would happen to pick a winner.

 "If I was to take up money for a group I think it would be only right to share. If you get it, because they put money in, you all should get a share of it."

Lottery officials say when the jackpot gets bigger, more groups like families and coworkers pool their money for a better chance. But there are potential pitfalls.

 Van Denton of the North Carolina Education Lottery offers this advice:

  • First, groups must govern themselves since the pay out goes to individual ticketholders
  • The group's rules need to be in writing
  • Get copies of every ticket purchased
  • Make the ticket buyer designate any tickets he or she buys personally that are not for the group
  • Get the names and phone numbers of each player.

So do group players have better odds? We took that question to mathematics teacher Constance McGrail. 

"If you go in as a group and you've got more money and you buy 20 tickets, then you're chances are going to be slightly better than if you bought one ticket, but you're still statistically not having a great chance of winning a lot," McGrail told WBTV.

The odds may increase, but winners need to keep in mind that the prize is split among all the players.  That $1,000,000 prize in Greensboro worked out to $34,000, after taxes, for each of 20 players.

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