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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Showing 3 of 30 comments
Tology
Mar 30, 2012 4:42 AM CDT
He is right, matching 2 sets of randomly drawn numbers to each other is nearly impossible, but eventually it will happen and BAZINGA!!! some toothless person in a trailer park will be rich.
mtownfred
Mar 29, 2012 3:31 PM CDT
Here in NJ with a 8.9% tax rate added to the 35% federal tax rate the net cash after taxes will be $198,029,400. Nice chunk of change. I would probably give most of it to charities, save about $20 mil for myself, put it into tax free bond fund @ 4% making $800,000/year tax free.
RogerMohajir
Mar 29, 2012 2:55 PM CDT
This analysis is correct as far as it goes. No matter the size of the jackpot, or how you pick your numbers, the odds of winning are the same. But the jackpot size does matter when it comes to determining whether or not buying a ticket is "a good bet." Since the odds of winning are 176 million to one, it is a "good bet" if you risk one dollar in order to win more than $176 million. The other relevant issue is "replacement value," i.e. what else could you buy with the dollar. Personally, I can't really think of anything that costs $1 that will give me as much pleasure as daydreaming for the next two days about winning this jackpot. So go buy tickets. You'll be helping to pump up MY jackpot.