In 2008, there were 1.03 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the United States. Based on these odds, a lottery player living a single mile from a store selling lottery tickets is four times more likely to die in a car accident driving to the store than to win the Powerball jackpot. Winning doesn’t seem too likely now, does it? Keep those odds in mind the next time you drive to the store to buy lottery tickets!
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.
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.
One example of this was the Missouri Lottery's promotion in the daily Pick 3. Normally a player has a 1/1000 chance of winning a $600 prize, making a $1 ticket worth only $0.60. The promotion was to draw a second winning combination on one randomly selected day of the week. Originally, the drawing to determine whether the bonus would occur that day held six white balls and one orange, but on the last day of the week, all six white balls had been removed, leaving only the orange ball and ensuring a double drawing on the last day.  This doubled the value of tickets for that drawing and converted them from an expected 40 percent loss to a 20 percent gain. See table 1 below for how the expected value varied that week.
If you are a Jackpot winner in a state that requires your name be publicized, or if you choose to be known as a winner, or if your secret gets out unintentionally, the world will be waiting to meet its newest multimillionaire. Some people will simply be curious, while others will seek a cut of your fortune. Solicitors and the media will seek out your home, your workplace, and your friends and family. While this will not last long, you should leave town with your loved ones for a few days so that you can celebrate your life-changing event in private. Before you go, ask your attorney or spokesperson to handle any questions for you in your absence.
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. 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.
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.