The awkwardly long drumroll is a classic stage gag. The spotlight goes on, the drumroll begins, and the moment the audience has been waiting for… doesn’t happen.
That’s essentially what happened – or rather, didn’t happen – with last night’s record-setting Powerball jackpot draw.
Powerball draws normally take place Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights at 11 p.m. Eastern. But with $1.9 billion on the line last night, 11 p.m. came and went.
The California Lottery, which handles the draw for the interstate lottery, has explained the delay. In an announcement sent to press and posted to social media, it said:
The Powerball drawing scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7 remains delayed. Currently, one participating lottery is still processing its sales and play data. […] Once Powerball receives the outstanding submission, the drawing can proceed.
As of 8 a.m. Eastern, the results are still not in. The California Lottery has not provided a specific time for the drawing to take place.
It’s not clear which state is to blame. However, if this drawing fails to find a winner, it’s likely to only get worse with subsequent ones, as purchases increase further. Exponential growth of jackpots being what it is, it’s not unreasonable to guess that a hypothetical Wednesday draw would be for well over $2.5 billion.
Update – 1:46 p.m. ET: Winner Declared
At 12:51 p.m. ET, the California Lottery tweeted that a ticket buyer in Altadena won the $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot:
California Lottery makes its FIRST EVER Billionaire! One lucky ticket sold at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena matched all 6 numbers in the November 7 #Powerball draw. The final jackpot amount for this draw came to $2.04 BILLION dollars.
We are so excited and we just can’t hide it 🥳👏🎉. Not only did California have the BIG #Powerball winner, three more tickets matched 5 numbers missing just the Powerball in Gardena, Beaumont, and San Francisco. Congratulations to all our players! #CALottery
Update – 10:15 a.m. ET: The Numbers Are In
Shortly after this article was published, at around 9 a.m., the draw finally took place.
The winning numbers are: 10-33-41-47-56, plus 10 as the Powerball number.
There was no immediate announcement as to whether a jackpot winner had been found.
Big Prizes, Big Crowds, Big Problems
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that this sort of issue has come up. Historical jackpots also mean historical ticket sales, as lottery fever grips the nation. That sort of unusual activity volume puts a strain on systems that have never before had to handle so much all at once.
Even the Powerball website was noticeably slower leading up to the draw. Now, it appears that the usual website was unable to handle the volume of traffic as people search for info about the draw that didn’t happen. For now, it has been replaced by a static screen simply saying:
November 7, 2022 @10:59 EST
Cash Value: $929.1 million
Here at Bonus, too, we’ve noticed traffic to our Powerball numbers generator page increase by well over a factor of ten.
When the Powerball jackpot is small, it takes about three weeks, or 8-10 draws, for it to grow from $50 million to $150 million. At present, each draw is adding hundreds of millions. For instance, Saturday’s draw was for $1.5 billion, so in the course of one draw it has increased $400 million. That implies that lotteries are dealing with something like 40 or 50 times their usual sales volume.
A similar phenomenon sometimes occurs when a new state launches online gambling. The most popular operators have sometimes found themselves in the situation of getting too many signups on day one.