In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery, jackpots are split equally among all winners who match all numbers. If a player could ensure that he wouldn't have to split the jackpot, Mega Millions becomes a smart bet whenever the jackpot exceeds about $420 million, but this calculation doesn't account for the possibility of a split jackpot. It has been theorized that the ticket buying frenzies as the jackpot rises increases the likelihood of multiple winners sufficiently that the jackpot can never get large enough to give a ticket a positive expected value.[5]
Consider the tax implications. In the United States, gambling winnings are taxable, but gambling losses are only deductible to offset winnings. This legal asymmetry may affect the math. The double draw promotion that resulted in a 20 percent player advantage before tax considerations is only profitable after taxes, provided the player can purchase the hundreds of tickets required to cover a significant fraction of the 1000 outcomes.
Consider the tax implications. In the United States, gambling winnings are taxable, but gambling losses are only deductible to offset winnings. This legal asymmetry may affect the math. The double draw promotion that resulted in a 20 percent player advantage before tax considerations is only profitable after taxes, provided the player can purchase the hundreds of tickets required to cover a significant fraction of the 1000 outcomes.
Also, never hand over a ticket to a clerk at a lottery location and ask if you've won. Use a computer terminal to determine if you're a winner, ask the clerk for the winning numbers and verify them yourself, or check online or in newspapers to find the winning numbers. It's easy for an unscrupulous clerk to pocket your ticket and tell you it was a loser.
The minute you realize you have all the numbers, you’re ecstatic. But make absolutely sure that what you’re celebrating is real. Check the numbers again. And again. Verify the numbers on the website, and check again that your ticket has the same numbers and the correct drawing date. Avoid embarrassment and disappointment by, before anything else, making sure you are truly the winner of the Jackpot.
This article focuses on the Powerball lottery, the largest lottery in the United States. Available in 42 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Powerball always has a jackpot of at least $20 million and has drawings twice a week. It is made up of five sets of 59 numerical white balls and one set of 39 red “Powerballs,” which make up the winning number combinations for each drawing.
One of the biggest events of your life has just occurred: your financial situation has drastically changed in a matter of minutes. Of course, you’ll want to tell everyone you know that you’ve won, and you’re wealthy, and life will never be the same. But spreading the word at this point would be a huge mistake. The fewer the people that know you’ve won the lottery, the better—the better for you and for those you love.
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What If Win Lottery?


Find the expected value. This is a good idea for any lottery game you are considering playing. The expected value refers to the probability of any one outcome, assuming all outcomes are equally probable. Here, the expected value calculates the value of the ticket, if the game was set up fairly so that the revenue gained from the losing tickets would match the winners' profits. 

Determine the probability of each possible "win." This will depend upon the specific powerball or number game you're playing. If it's a six-digit number that you pick, there are nine possibilities for each position and six different positions. Since each outcome is equally likely, you'll need to calculate a permutation. Alternatively, the odds should be listed in the game's rules.[3] 

Odds of Winning the Lottery


Find the expected value. This is a good idea for any lottery game you are considering playing. The expected value refers to the probability of any one outcome, assuming all outcomes are equally probable. Here, the expected value calculates the value of the ticket, if the game was set up fairly so that the revenue gained from the losing tickets would match the winners' profits.
To illustrate this point, let’s say an average lottery player spends $5 per week on Powerball tickets. That’s $20 each month or $240 spent on lottery tickets every year. This person buys lottery tickets every month of every year for 25 years, as my grandfather did throughout his adult life. The amount spent on lottery tickets over a lifetime is $6,000, which surely could have been put to better use. Instead, that $6,000 disappeared, and never won any jackpot big enough to cover the player’s expenses.
In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery, jackpots are split equally among all winners who match all numbers. If a player could ensure that he wouldn't have to split the jackpot, Mega Millions becomes a smart bet whenever the jackpot exceeds about $420 million, but this calculation doesn't account for the possibility of a split jackpot. It has been theorized that the ticket buying frenzies as the jackpot rises increases the likelihood of multiple winners sufficiently that the jackpot can never get large enough to give a ticket a positive expected value.[5]
Use the singleton method. A few years ago, a statistician discovered a statistical quirk in the production of scratch-off tickets, which can double your chances of winning if exploited correctly.[1] Basically, scratch off games operate under the assumption of "randomness," but can't be produced in a truly random way, because the lottery board needs to keep track of how many winning tickets are in circulation.
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