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Can playing the Powerball lottery be an effective strategy to pay off student loans?

It's week 35 of 3News' Stephanie Haney's experiment to track Powerball winnings versus expenses over one year, in hopes of making a dent in her student loans
Credit: Stephanie Haney
Stephanie Haney celebrates winning $200 in the Powerball lottery, from the drawing held on on September 21, 2022.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: This is a continuation of Stephanie Haney's original story on her year-long experiment to see whether it pays to play the Powerball lottery. Find that original story covering weeks 1 through 34 here.

When I started out in January on a year-long journey to see if it pays to play the Powerball lottery, I predicted that I might not win a prize until September based on the odds, but I didn't venture a guess as to how large that prize might be.

This experiment has not only been a fun foray into responsible gambling, but also a bit of a commentary on the state of student loan debt in America, inspired in part by the fact that I am one of millions of Americans with considerable student loan debt.

Something else I didn't predict was that President Joe Biden would come forward with a plan to forgive either $10,000 or $20,000 in student loan debt for most Americans, but that was also a pleasant surprise for me. (I know not everyone feels this way, but in full transparency, I'll benefit from this plan and I'm happy for it.)

So that brings us to where we are today, coming back to my weekly experiment after my only win so far, which was a $200 prize that has officially put me in the black for my experiment! (My budget was set from the beginning at $156 for the year. That accounts for playing the Powerball lottery once per week, buying a $2 ticket each Wednesday and paying the extra $1 for the Power Play.)

Follow along below for my weekly thoughts on how the rest of the experiment is going through January 5, 2023, including updates on how hypothetical alternate investments may or may not have paid off.

Week 35: Powerball drawing on Wednesday, September 28

Coming off of my only win so far in this experiment where I matched 3 numbers plus the Powerball to win $200, I was hoping lightning would strike twice and I'd wake up an even bigger winner! Alas, that was not the case and I returned to my more-typical luck, of not matching a single number. 

I should've guessed that would be situation. After all, the odds of winning the prize that I won are only 1 in 14,494. (It would've been a $100 prize, if I hadn't paid the extra $1 to play the 2x Power Play multiplier!) Either way, I'm playing with "house money" at this point, because as long as I stick to my budget I know that I'll end up in the black for the year, overall.

I've been using a third-party app called Jackpocket to play because it allows me to buy my Powerball ticket on my phone, and the payout process was pretty simply. Since the prize wasn't one of the larger ones that requires claiming it in person at an Ohio Lottery office, I was able to select the "payout" option in the app and get my $200 winnings direct-deposited into the bank account that I had already linked to the app. I'm happy to say the payout process was seamless, without any hidden fees.

My win last week was made even sweeter by the wonderful people at the Ohio Lottery letting me come in to their downtown office and take a picture with my very own "big check!" I know it's only $200, but I think you have to create moments to celebrate in life, and I had fun going in there and celebrating this small win! Now, I look forward to next week to see if more luck comes my way.

The winning Powerball numbers for September 28 were 6, 10, 24, 33 and 67 with 11 as the Powerball. The Power Play was at three times. My numbers were 18, 47, 58, 61 and 68 with 19 as the Powerball.

  • Powerball jackpot: $322 million
  • Powerball expenses this week: $3
  • Powerball expense to date: $113
  • Powerball winnings this week: $0
  • Powerball winnings to date: $200
  • Net Powerball proceeds: $87

Here's what each of my hypothetical alternate investments of $156 would have been worth at 5:30 pm Eastern on September 29:

  • Bitcoin: $0.45 (0.000023BTC) for a net loss to date of $155.55
  • Dogecoin: $56.17 (952.79 DOGE) for a net loss to date of $99.83
  • Apple stock: $142.48 (1 share, at $173.76 per share) for a net loss to date of $31.28

Check back in each Thursday from now through January 5, 2023, to see how much I've spent, how much money I've made, and how hypothetical investments in Bitcoin, dogecoin, and Apple stocks would be performing, by comparison. 

RELATED: How much do you have to spend in order to win the Powerball lottery, and can playing Powerball be an effective strategy to pay off student loans?

RELATED: Powerball lottery winning numbers from Wednesday, September 21, 2022: See all the prizes sold in Ohio

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