CK Insights

January 13, 2016

I’m going to win $1 Billion. How the Powerball jackpot is a PR team’s dream topic.


Senior Digital Specialist, Adam Baliban doesn’t normally don’t play the lottery, but he opened his wallet because of the anticipation and excitement he felt all around him. The types of topics that come along with something as popular as the Powerball jackpot, PR specialists have a plethora of story angles to choose from.


Did you buy your Powerball ticket over the weekend? I did. $16 worth. While my chances of winning are one in 292,201,338 (according to, I went out to two different stores and spun the wheel of chance.


I normally don’t play the lottery, because I look at it as a waste of money. However, that didn’t stop me from purchasing eight lotto tickets over the weekend. The main reason I opened my wallet was because of the anticipation and excitement I felt all around me. I wanted to be a part of it and maybe even have my own story to tell!


Did I win? No. But I’m not alone. The jackpot is now worth $1.5 billion, with a cash prize of over $800 million. Even if you split that cash prize three ways, you still walk away with more money than JJ Abrams’ net worth. That, my friends, is something PR practitioners dream of sharing with reporters. A rags-to-riches story strikes gold when it comes to getting the attention of the public, but it’s not the only story to tell.


As PR pros, we know tapping into the emotional side of a story is powerful, but add in the fact that an absurd amount of free money is involved and the types of topics that come out are pretty much unlimited. Here are some of my favorites (both depressing and uplifting) that have been published over the past few days.


“You Don’t Have a Chance at Winning”


First off, who here loved doing word problems in math class? If you answered yes, then you will probably get a kick out some of the crazy formulas people are coming up with for why you’re not going to become and instant billionaire. It’s a little ‘glass half empty’ in my opinion, but hey, they are the most in touch with reality.


Wired – That Fascinating Math Behind Why You Won’t Win Powerball

NYTimes – You Will Not Win the Powerball Jackpot

Entrepreneur – What Will You Do When You Don’t Win the Powerball?


If the Stars Align and You Win, Here are the Next Steps


You have just as much chance at winning as the next guy. With odds somewhere in the realm of 1 out of 292 million, is there really a chance the guy who spent $100 on tickets is in a better position to win than someone who spent $10? Here are some stories that are a little more uplifting.


Lifehacker – What to Do with the Money If You Actually Win Tonight’s Powerball Jackpot

NYTimes (playing both sides) – Dear Powerball Winner: Take Our Advice and Take the Annuity

ForbesHow To Remain Anonymous If You Win The $1.5 Billion Powerball Lottery


You Won the Lottery! Now the Bad News.


This is why I love PR. You can get so creative with story angles. Most people would assume that the only feelings people will have after the final drawing will be disappointment or absolute jubilee! Why focus on those two when the breadth of human emotion is so vast? For example, why not make someone feel that winning the lottery is the worst thing that could ever happen to them? A few of these gems are popping up as well.


Reader’s Digest – 13 Things Lottery Winners Won’t Tell You

Timeline – Lottery’s Biggest Winners, Who Lost Big


Social Media News Feeds Create their Own Story


While the articles mentioned above are the most popular, they certainly aren’t the only ways a story can be told. Depending on who a person follows, their social news feed is completely unique and can tell its own story.


A quick search on Meltwater Buzz around the Powerball conversation shows there were about 10,000 social media mentions a week since the beginning of the new Powerball drawing on Nov. 4th. Most conversations circulated around a person’s lucky numbers. Over the past five days, that conversation has increased to over 250,000 mentions! Now we see more stories about the correct way to spend that type of cash, the types of charities that could benefit most from philanthropic donors, and just some of the outrageous items people would buy (a personal Gulftstream is a popular one).


In summary, the Powerball jackpot is the largest the world has ever seen. If you think there are lot of stories now, just wait until a winner is announced! I can’t wait to see how a person’s good fortune (or bad, depending on how you look at it) is told to the masses. As PR specialists, it’s our job to make sure that it’s interesting and can strike a chord with our targeted audience.


So hats off to the PR team behind Powerball. I’m sure that the winner will have an amazing story to tell. In fact, I can see the best headline now, “PR digital specialist wins world’s largest Powerball jackpot, in talks with JJ Abrams to direct bio-pic.”

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