How Many Numbers Are in the Lottery?

Choosing your winning numbers is fun, but what’s the range of numbers you can even choose from? Learn how many numbers are in the lottery.

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Adam Moelis
Oct 5, 2022
7 min read

The Mega Millions and Powerball lottery are two of the country's most popular multi-state lottery games. When you’ve got the chance of winning prizes as high as billions of dollars, why not press your luck?

These games operate with number drawings, and while you get to select your winning numbers, how high can you go? How many numbers are there in that big ball machine that they do the drawings from, and are there ways to increase your chances of winning?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What Should I Know About Draw Games?

When you play the lottery, there are two main types that you’re probably participating in. The first is scratch-off games, where you scratch off cards to reveal prizes. While each has individual game rules, these games do not require you to pick numbers ahead of time. You just tell the lottery retailer which card you want, and they’ll hand it to you.

On the other hand, draw games are your Mega Millions and Powerballs. These games select winners through bi-weekly number drawings, so you’ll need to purchase tickets within those time frames unless you want to wait for the next drawing.

With these, you’ll select a set of winning numbers when you purchase your lottery ticket at a retailer. You can tell them your numbers, or if you don’t know what to pick, you can ask them for a “quick pick,” in which all your numbers get selected randomly. They’ll then hand you a playslip with your printed numbers for reference. This is also how you’ll prove that you’ve won.

The reality is that the odds of winning do not increase just because you chose your numbers rather than doing it randomly. However, selecting your set of numbers can be fun if you’re feeling particularly lucky.

The Mega Millions and Powerball work similarly in that you’ll select five winning numbers plus one extra number for the Mega Ball or Powerball, respectively. You'll go home with the jackpot if you match all six of these numbers during the next drawing.

What Numbers Can You Pick in the Lottery?

If you choose your own numbers, the retailer might look at you a little bit funny if you choose a winning number like 1,265. That’s because there are only a certain amount of numbers you can choose from.

For the Powerball, the white balls only range from 1 to 69, so when you select your numbers, you’ll want to ensure they fall between them. And for the red Powerball, the numbers only range from 1 to 26. The Mega Millions is similar, with the winning white balls between 1 and 70 and the gold Mega Ball between 1 and 25.

When it comes to choosing your winning numbers, these digits never repeat. So you’ll want to ensure that all of them are different numbers. The bonus ball is independent of the winning numbers, so the red Powerball or gold Mega Ball may repeat a number from the winning number drawing.

What Numbers Should You Pick in the Lottery?

The odds of you winning the lottery are very small. To put it into perspective, you’re 300 times more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to win the Mega Millions jackpot. But that doesn’t stop people from giving it a go.

While there is no rhyme or reason to pick any number over another, a review done by USA Mega looked at 100 drawings and found that the most common numbers drawn were 7, 21, 40, 3, and 58. The most common Mega Ball number was 24. So, if you want to go with the data, it might be a good idea to snag some of these numbers.

And as far as numbers to avoid, that same review found that 23, 50, 54, 67, and 69 were the least common numbers, with the least common Mega Ball being 7. 

Note that there is really no way for you to know which balls will be winners, and even though specific numbers occur more or less often than others, each drawing is entirely independent of one another. There’s no way to know what numbers will be removed.

How Can You Increase Your Odds of Winning the Lottery?

If you’re ready to join the few hundred jackpot winners who have been lucky enough to hold a winning ticket, you probably want to increase your odds as much as possible. Here’s the thing — there’s no way to increase your odds of winning (unless you cheat).

Many people think that if they play in consecutive drawings every week, they’ll be likelier to snag that top prize. However, each drawing is independent, meaning that if you play in one drawing, it does not influence your chances of winning the next Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot. So don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you play every week means you have better odds.

The only way to increase your chances is to buy multiple tickets for the same drawing. But even then, the odds of winning are so slim that you won’t be doing much. After all, if it were easy to win the lottery, everyone would have done it by now.

And while it doesn’t increase your odds of winning the main jackpot, the Powerball allows for something called “double play,” which is a new feature that gives players another chance to win. If you match your Powerball numbers in this separate drawing, you can win a top cash prize of $10 million. It’s an additional $1 to your original ticket, held after each original Powerball drawing.

With that said, you don’t need to match every single one of your winning numbers to win non-jackpot prizes. Even if you match a few, you can win a little cash (although it’s not nearly as much as the lotto jackpot).

How Can You Claim Your Lottery Prize?

If you’ve somehow defied the odds and are the proud winner of a huge jackpot, congratulations. Your life is about to change in unimaginable ways. The next step is claiming your prize.

If you won a non-jackpot prize of $599 and below, you could claim your ticket in person at a lottery retailer. It doesn’t need to be the same place you purchased the original ticket. Most gas stations, grocery stores, and convenience stores are lottery retailers, and they can give you cash for your prize as long as they have enough money on hand.

For anything $600 and over, you’ll need to file a claim form. You can download a claim form on the website of your state lottery, and then you can take your form in person to a Lottery District Office — or you can mail it in. If you choose the latter, we suggest you choose certified mail and make copies of everything you send.

While each state law differs, most prizes higher than a certain amount are subject to income tax withholding at the federal level. Typically, this means that anywhere from 24-40% of your total prize will be withheld. 

Choose Annuity or Lump Sum Payments

The prize amount you see advertised for the Powerball or Mega Millions is not the amount you’ll be taking home if you win. The advertised jackpot is the prize value without fees and taxes deduced. But your choice of how you want to receive your payment can affect the cash value you take home.

With a lump sum payment, you’ll receive a payout of the entire aggregate prize, after taxes, in one fell swoop. For a $1 billion jackpot, you can expect to receive around $600-650 million right then and there. The benefit of a lump sum payment is that you get to enjoy all of your winnings. The downfall is that some lotto winners become somewhat irresponsible with their winnings and blow through all of it.

On the other hand, annuity payments are a safer option that pays out your prize in annual payments over 30 years. There are a few benefits to taking an annuity payment:

  • You pay income taxes on your prize whenever you receive it. A lump sum payment will likely put you into the highest bracket, forcing you to pay higher taxes. On the other hand, annuity payments will likely not put you into the highest tax bracket for many years down the line, saving you money on taxes in the first few years of your payment.
  • You are less likely to blow through all of your winnings.
  • You’ll have consistent income for many years.

The only downfall to taking annuity options is that you may die before seeing all of your winnings. 

In Conclusion

The odds of winning the lottery are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop many people from choosing their five winning numbers every week. There are 1 to 69 winnings numbers to choose from for the Powerball and 70 numbers to choose from if you play Mega Millions.

Oddly enough, specific numbers seem to get drawn a little more often than others. Still, since each drawing is entirely independent of one another, it’s impossible to predict outcomes definitively. The only way to increase your odds is by purchasing multiple tickets for the same drawing.

The lottery is fun when you win, but not so much when you lose. Yotta is like a no-lose lottery that rewards you for saving money. We offer bank account services that pay out interest in prizes of up to $1million nightly.

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