## We Are Getting Close…$540 Million MegaMillions Jackpot

A few weeks ago, I conjectured that we will someday soon get a $1 billion lottery prize. Well, we don’t have that yet, but we do have the first over $500 Million dollar MegaMillion prize for the drawing on Friday, March 29th.

This is a new milestone, this is the first time any lottery prized has crossed over that threshold. The remarkable path of this prize is that it took two months of rollover prizes to get here but the prize amount is accelerating very fast. The Tuesday drawing had a prize of $363 million. So, in just one drawing the prize has increased by an incredible $177 million (there are two drawings every week).

One or two more drawings, we should see 1 Billion!

That is unlikely though. Even though the odds of winning are low (1 in 175 Million) , the recent drawings will certainly have ticket pools with a very large percentage of numbers covered, perhaps 30-40% or more. This means that the odds of at least one ticket winning are 1-4 or less.

As an investor it might seem counter intuitive to put money in gambling, particularly a game that really is like burning your dollars. The odds are very low, virtually zero, and yet because the buying pool is so large someone inevitably has to win.

But, there is a remarkable math event here that you should be a part of. **That the drawing is a better than odds bet**! In the legalized gambling world this almost never can happen except in this lottery and perhaps a skilled card counter who can get a slight advantage over the blackjack dealer.

This is a good gamble because the prize beats the odds not only from the annuity payout but the cash prize as well. So, the odds are 175 million to 1. The annuity payout is $540 million, while the cash prize payout is currently quoted as $:390 million: more than double the odds!

In all the whoopla over this lottery prize, you may think that there are ways to improve your chance of winning. Despite what past winners or other “experts” say there really isn’t much you can do. Here are some myths that really aren’t true:

**Myth #1 Pick Your Own Numbers, Don’t Quick Pick.**

Every set of numbers have the same chance of winning, no matter how you pick them. The basis for thinking that picking your own numbers is better comes from the notion that number pickers can chose numbers that have not won before, so the sets that you pick must have a higher chance of appearing. This is not borne out by the statistics.

There is one possible advantage to picking your numbers. Most number pickers select based upon birth dates. If you however, chose to select numbers outside the birth date ranges (1-12, 1-31), it is possible that you will have a lower possibility of sharing your prize with someone else who didn’t use the numbers greater than 31. But you first have to get the winning numbers.

### Myth #2 The Amount You Play Doesn’t Change The Odds

This one is confusing to a lot of people, including a few I know who are otherwise very intelligent and understand math well. The thinking behind this myth is a confusion over putting more money on the same set of numbers versus different numbers. If you buy the same set of numbers 10 times, it’s true you odds of winning are not improved. However, if you pick 10 different sets of numbers (buying 10 tickets), your odds are dramatically improved. From 175 million to 17.5 million to 1.

The best way to take advantage of this is to pool your tickets with others. Buying 100 tickets gets the odds down to a more reasonable 1.75 million to 1.

### Myth #3 Quick Picks Win More Often

This myth is based on the fact that people who win are more likely to have used the Quick pick versus selecting their own numbers. But of course, almost 2/3rds of all tickets sold are Quick picks so this makes sense that they would win more often: they buy most of the tickets!

There may not be any strategy to win sooner or at all, but it’s clear that you need at least one ticket to have any chance at all of winning.