Posts Tagged 'lottery'

The Lottery Explained By Math

The Mega Millions jackpot is approaching record levels. At the time of this posting the jackpot is currently $636 million. I am currently involved in two lottery pools here at Churchill and would absolutely love to be instantly wealthy from sheer dumb luck. But even though I currently have a stake in about 100 sets of numbers, I’m well aware of the odds. Gizmodo has a good list of things that are more likely to happen than winning the grand prize tonight. Among the highlights are:

Houston Astros Winning the 2014 World Series: 200-to-1
Bowling a Perfect 300: 11,500-to-1
Dating a Supermodel: 88,000-to-1
Getting Struck by Lightning: 576,000-to-1
Being Canonized: 20,000,000-to-1

Business Insider also has a great article concerning the math behind the lottery. I won’t bore you with the various regression analyses but I’ll share some of their conclusions.

1. The takes are incredibly high if you take the lump-sum jackpot. All of it is taxed as earned income so just in federal income tax you’ll be paying 39.5 percent of your winnings straight to the federal government. Taking the money as a 30 year annuity will significantly reduce your tax burden if you win, as will moving to a state without an income tax.

2. According to their math it only makes sense to buy in when the jackpot exceeds $380 million.

3. Try to play in smaller state lotteries that don’t get much press. The odds of winning those are much higher (though still ridiculously low.)

Don’t spend too much money on lottery tickets though. For the most part you’re only buying a daydream and you can do that for free. Just remember putting $20 into a retirement vehicle like a 401(k) or IRA will yield you far more money in the future than hoping for the best with the Mega Millions.

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