What are the Odds?

WPI math prof Marcel Blais discusses the Powerball phenomenon
November 28, 2012

Marcel Blais and Pam Cross

By now, everyone's heard the odds for winning tonight's $550 million Powerball drawing are steep. How steep? Try 1 in 175 million.

But what does that mean exactly? Marcel Blais, assistant teaching professor of math at WPI, puts it all in perspective during an interview today with WCVB-TV (Channel 5 in Boston) reporter Pam Cross.

Consider the following analogies. Blais tells Channel 5 that winning the Powerball is akin to: 

• Having 27 grandchildren that are all female 

• Rolling two dice 104 times and never coming up with the number "7" 

• Flipping a coin 27 times and landing on heads every time

Tune in to WCVB-TV/Channel 5 tonight at 5 and 6 and learn more.


WPI's Mathematical Sciences undergraduate and graduate programs are enhanced and distinguished with real-world, project-based education. Faculty and students collaborate with industry, national research centers, and the international academic community. As math is everywhere in society, so are WPI's Mathematical Sciences graduates. Not surprisingly, alumni work across a diversity of industries, including architecture, insurance and finance, healthcare, computer science, physiological and biological sciences, and a broad spectrum of engineering fields. Learn more here.