The Odds of Winning a Lottery Jackpot

lottery jackpot

When a jackpot rolls over from one lottery draw to the next, it grows and grow until someone finally wins it. These giant prizes aren’t just luck; they’re the result of deliberate decisions made by lottery organizers. For decades, Powerball and Mega Millions have lengthened the odds of winning each time a drawing passes without a winner. That’s helped to incentivize people to buy tickets, and the jackpots have grown enormous as a result.

But what does it actually take to win? We spoke to experts to find out.

Mathematicians define the chance of winning a jackpot as epsilon, an arbitrarily small quantity that’s as close to zero as possible. But even if you bought two tickets, doubling your chances of winning, the odds are still quite low. In fact, you’re more likely to get struck by lightning or die in a car crash than win the jackpot.

The odds of winning the lottery are also impacted by how many tickets are sold and the numbers chosen. For example, a ticket that uses family members’ birthdays as the numbers will have much lower odds than one that chooses random numbers.

Lottery winners can choose to take a lump sum payout or an annuity that will pay them in equal payments over 30 years. Most opt for the lump sum. But that option means they will receive a lower prize than the advertised amount. If you do decide to take the lump sum, work with a financial professional so you can set up an investment portfolio that will generate income throughout your life.