Everyone knows that winning a lottery jackpot, such as a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot, is one of the least likely things that can ever happen in your life. Despite being well aware of the microscopic odds of winning, tens of millions of Americans still play the lottery each year.
The phenomenon is a burning question in the field of psychology. Why does an otherwise rational person spend money when they know it’s a practical guarantee they’ll lose?
How can we account for the massive lottery game industry, with very few lottery winners becoming millionaires and many hopeful people vying for winning numbers from New York to Florida to California?
The most likely answer is that the large lump sum lottery winnings simply blind people. The potential to win a ten-figure jackpot is enough for almost anyone to decide it’s worth a shot, despite the low odds of catching that top prize.
There’s indeed a 99.999% chance that they’re going to lose. However, those are much better odds than the 100% chance they’ll have if they don’t play.
How Do You Calculate the Odds of Winning the Lottery?
Calculating the odds of winning any lottery requires a lot of math. But the formula isn’t as complicated as you might think.
You’ll essentially divide the winning lottery numbers by the total number of possible lottery numbers. For example, let’s say that a lottery has three numbers ranging from 1 to 50.
The odds of the first number being correct are 1 in 50. Since the same number can’t get selected twice, the odds of the second number being correct are 1 in 49.
You would multiply these two numbers (50 X 49) to calculate the odds of picking two numbers correctly: 1 in 2,450. The pattern continues as the odds of the third number being correct are 1 in 48.
You would then multiply all three of these odds (50 X 49 X 48) to find the odds of all three being correct are 1 in 117,600.
There are no significant lotteries that require the numbers to be in order. If they did, the odds of anyone winning prizes of any kind would be unfathomable.
Since the order doesn’t matter, you would divide the number you calculated earlier (117,600) by the total numbers selected (three). By doing so, you would find out that you have a 1 in 19,600 chance of winning this lottery.
Adding a second number is where the odds start to jump. Using this same example, let’s say that there is a “Bonus Ball” that ranges from 1 to 15.
You would follow the same formula above and multiply the odds of getting the three numbers right (1 in 19,600) by the odds of getting the Bonus Ball right (1 in 15). In this scenario, you would only have a 1 in 294,000 chance of winning.
What Are the Chances of Winning the Major Lotteries?
The lottery is available in every U.S. state except for Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. Each state can run as many lotteries as it would like.
If you want to calculate the chances of getting a winning ticket from the lotteries in your state, then you can use the formula above.
Here are the chances for each of the three nationally based-lottery options:
The Powerball lottery is drawn Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights at 10:59 PM EST. Five numbers ranging from 1 to 69 get selected, with the Powerball being a separate drawing from a pool of 1 to 26. These are the odds of choosing a combination that makes you a jackpot winner:
- 1 in 36 chance to match just the Powerball
- 1 in 92 chance to match one number and the Powerball
- 1 in 580 chance to match three numbers
- 1 in 701 chance to match two numbers and the Powerball
- 1 in 14,494 chance to match three numbers and the Powerball
- 1 in 36,525 chance to match four numbers
- 1 in 913,129 chance to match four numbers and the Powerball
- 1 in 11,688,054 chance to match all five numbers
- 1 in 292,201,338 chance to match all five numbers and the Powerball
The Mega Millions lottery gets drawn on Tuesday and Friday at 11 PM EST. Five numbers ranging from 1 to 70 get selected, with the Mega Ball being a separate drawing from a pool of 1 to 25. These are the odds of choosing a combination that wins a prize:
- 1 in 37 chance to match just the Mega Ball
- 1 in 89 chance to match one number and the Mega Ball
- 1 in 606 chance to match three numbers
- 1 in 693 chance to match two numbers and the Mega Ball
- 1 in 14,547 chance to match three numbers and the Mega Ball
- 1 in 38,792 chance to match four numbers
- 1 in 931.001 chance to match four numbers and the Mega Ball
- 1 in 12,607,306 chance to match all five numbers
- 1 in 302,575,350 chance to match all five numbers and the Mega Ball
The Yotta sweepstakes are drawn daily at 9 PM EST. Five numbers ranging from 1 to 99 get selected, with the YottaBall coming from a separate drawing also ranging from 1 to 99. These are the odds of selecting a combination that wins a prize:
- 1 in 54 chance to match two numbers
- 1 in 129 chance to match just the YottaBall
- 1 in 464 chance to match one number, and the YottaBall
- 1 in 1,653 chance to match three numbers
- 1 in 5,282 chance to match two numbers and the YottaBall
- 1 in 153,729 chance to match four numbers
- 1 in 161,995 chance to match three numbers and the YottaBall
- 1 in 15,065,513 chance to match four numbers and the YottaBall
- 1 in 72,252,972 chance to match all five numbers
- 1 in 7,080,791,256 chance to match all five numbers and the YottaBall
How Likely Is Winning the Lottery?
The numbers involved with probability only tell half of the story. It’s difficult to understand what it means when someone says it’s a “one in a million” chance. To better understand these odds, here are a few examples of life events and their chances of happening:
- 1 in 123 chance of being audited by the IRS
- 1 in 3,777 chance of living to be 100 years old
- 1 in 11,500 chance of winning an Academy Award
- 1 in 11,771 chance of playing in the NBA
- 1 in 12,000 chance of hitting a hole in one
- 1 in 649,739 chance of being dealt a royal flush
- 1 in 662,000 chance of winning an Olympic gold medal
- 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being struck by lightning
- 1 in 1,900,000 chance of accurately picking the Sweet Sixteen during March Madness
- 1 in 6,500,000 chance of dying from a bee sting
- 1 in 10,000,000 chance of being elected president
- 1 in 10,000,000 chance of being hit by falling airplane parts
- 1 in 11,500,000 chance of being attacked by a shark
- 1 in 15,000,000 chance of having identical quadruplets
How Can You Increase the Chances of Winning the Lottery?
From a statistical standpoint, there isn’t anything that you can do to improve your chances significantly. If there were, there would be people who have won the lotto multiple times.
However, a few things can technically alter the odds in your favor, from scratch-off games to state lotteries. The increase is minimal, but it could be the difference between winning and losing:
Play More Tickets
The most obvious answer is the best one. Playing more tickets is the best way to improve your chances of winning the lottery.
It’s relatively simple to think of it through the lens of bowling a strike. You are ten times more likely to bowl a strike in ten frames than one. That same concept is true for playing the lottery.
Let’s say you have a 1 in 100,000,000 chance of winning a lottery. Playing a hundred tickets would increase your odds to 100 in 100,000,000.
By simplifying this fraction, you would have new odds of 1 in 1,000,000. While that sounds much better, you must be careful following that line of thinking.
Lottery tickets aren’t cheap, and the costs can quickly add up. The best method is to play a lottery where the costs are lower. Yotta, for example, offers free entry into their daily sweepstakes. The tickets are given out based on the money in your account.
You’ll get one ticket for every $25 in your account, so that same $200 would get you eight tickets in the next drawing. Win or lose, the balance of your account is unchanged. You’ll have eight tickets for the next day, the next day, and the next day.
Join a Lottery Pool
Lottery pools are an excellent way to increase your chances of winning the lottery without increasing costs.
The way that it works is simple. A group of people contributes a specific amount of money before each drawing. The money gets used to purchase as many tickets as possible. Any prizes are split evenly between the member of the pool.
There are a few potential downsides to joining a lottery pool. For starters, you’ll be splitting the pool with the other people. A lottery pool of 100 would significantly increase your odds of winning without changing your cost to play.
However, you’d split the “pie” into 100 slices instead of having the whole thing for yourself.
Another issue is that money tends to bring out the worst in people. There have been several stories where the lottery manager has tried to claim the prize for themselves.
In most cases, the courts step in and settle the matter lawfully. But it’s usually after a grueling legal process that gets dragged out for years. If you decide to join a pool, then make sure that it’s with people you can trust.
Play the Odds by Playing With Yotta
It should be abundantly clear that winning the lottery is unlikely. You know the formula now and can figure out just how astronomical the numbers can be.
There are indeed some lotteries that have more favorable odds than others. However, winning the lottery is one of the most common dreams because it’s one of the most unlikely realities.
The best odds, in our view, come without cost. At Yotta, the odds of winning aren’t in your favor more than when you play Powerball or Mega Millions. The difference is that playing those lotteries can cost you.
Remember that tickets to Yotta are based on your account balance. The less money that you spend, the more tickets you’ll have. You won’t lose a dime no matter the results of each daily drawing.
Visit Yotta today to learn more and open up an account. Why spend money to play a lottery with unfavorable odds when you can do it for free at Yotta?
No matter how you do the math, you’ll always win when you play with Yotta.