The REAL Truth About the Lottery
Do NOT buy another lottery ticket until you read this…
The chances of winning a lottery jackpot can vary widely depending on the lottery design, and are determined by several factors, including the count of possible numbers, the count of winning numbers drawn, whether or not order is significant, and whether drawn numbers are returned for the possibility of further drawing.
In a simple 6-from-49 lotto, a player chooses six numbers from 1 to 49 (no duplicates are allowed). If all six numbers on the player’s ticket match those produced in the official drawing (regardless of the order in which the numbers are drawn), then the player is a jackpot winner. For such a lottery, the chance of being a jackpot winner is 1 in 13,983,816.
In bonusball lotteries where the bonus ball is compulsory, the odds are often even lower. In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery in the United States, 5 numbers are drawn from a group of 75 and 1 number is drawn from a group of 15, and a player must match all 6 balls to win the jackpot prize. The chance of winning the jackpot is 1 in 258,890,850.
The odds of winning can also be reduced by increasing the group from which numbers are drawn. In the SuperEnalotto of Italy, players must match 6 numbers out of 90. The chance of winning the jackpot is 1 in 622,614,630.
Most lotteries give lesser prizes for matching just some of the winning numbers. The Mega Millions game gives a payout (US$1) if a player matches only the bonus ball. The weekly 6/49 lottery operated by the ILLF offers a two-ball cash prize, for which the odds is 1 in 6.63. In the UK National Lottery the smallest prize is £25 for matching three balls. Recently the organizers have changed the rules and they offer GBP 2 for matching 2 numbers.
Matching more numbers, the payout goes up. Although none of these additional prizes affect the chances of winning the jackpot, they do improve the odds of winning something and therefore add a little to the value of the ticket. On the other hand, multiple smaller prizes usually mean smaller jackpots. It is common for the jackpot to be split evenly if multiple players have tickets with all the winning numbers.