No, You're Not Going to Win Mega Millions $500M Jackpot

You have a strategy? It won't improve your odds: mathematicians
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2012 12:01 PM CDT
In this Jan. 4, 2011 file phtoo, lottery ticket sales operator Laura Szafranski takes a Mega Millions lottery ticket from the printer for a customer in Pittsburgh.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

(Newser) – Have some complicated algorithm you think will help you win the Mega Millions record $500 million jackpot? Sorry, but there's really nothing you can do to improve your odds … which are about one in 176 million, ABC News reports. Since the pool of numbers never changes (the first five winning balls come from a set that runs 1 to 56; the last one can be any number from 1 to 46), "your chances of winning the jackpot with Mega Millions will always be the same," says one gaming mathematician, who has not purchased a ticket in 25 years. "It doesn't matter what numbers you pick or the jackpot size."

Of course, that doesn't stop people from coming up with strategies in an attempt to win big with tomorrow's drawing; one programmer created a website to track the numbers that have been drawn, and says some definitely pop up more than others. Even so, he says, "if that kind of analysis truly did produce a winning result, I would be a millionaire by now." One interesting suggestion: Avoid picking the same numbers as other people. That means you may want to consider taking random numbers rather than choosing your own, since people tend to choose dates—and, since that excludes a fair portion of the number pool, date-pickers are more likely to have to share the winnings.

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