What is the truth in winning Mega Millions and the Powerball lottery?

winning the powerball

Two lotteries in USA, Powerball and Mega Millions are the most popular lotteries all over the world. This is because of the awesome prizes that come along winning these lotteries. Powerball’s minimum advertised jackpot is $40 million (annuity) and drawings for Powerball are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10:59 p.m.   On January 13, 2016, Powerball produced the largest lottery jackpot in history; the $1.586 billion jackpot was split by three tickets sold in Chino Hills, California,  in Munford, Tennessee, and in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Mega Millions is drawn at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday and Friday evenings, including holidays. Under the current version’s regulations (which began October 28, 2017, with the first drawing October 31) for Mega Millions, the minimum Mega Millions advertised jackpot is also $40 million, paid in 30 graduated yearly installments.

The largest jackpot (in which the jackpot was won) in Mega Millions history was $1.537 billion, for the October 23, 2018 drawing, in which there was one winning jackpot ticket, sold in South Carolina and the winner anonymously claimed the prize in March 2019.

With these two lotteries on the number one scale of lotto games but had lesser odds of winning. But there are a limited number of possible winning numbers, so the odds of hitting a jackpot can be 100% if you buy enough lottery combinations.

Lotteries like Powerball or Mega Millions differ from sweepstakes because the winner isn’t randomly drawn from all of the qualified entries. Instead, entrants play by buying a ticket with a combination of numbers, and one of those combinations is drawn as the jackpot winner.

That means that the chances of winning are fixed and that they aren’t influenced by how many people buy tickets. Because there are a fixed number of lottery combinations, a very determined entrant with enough money at their disposal could buy every single possible combination and guarantee a jackpot win.

The correct winning combination in Powerball

winning combination

To win the Powerball jackpot, you need to have a lottery ticket with the correct combination of five white balls and the red Powerball. There are 69 possible numbers for the white balls and 26 possible results for the Powerball. Thus, the odds of picking that perfect combination with a single ticket are one in 292,201,338. 

Each Powerball ticket costs $2. That means you could buy all the possible combinations of tickets for $584,402,676. 

You can also guarantee a jackpot win for Mega Millions. For Mega Millions, you need to have a lottery ticket with the correct combination of five white balls and the Mega Ball. The five white balls have possible numbers ranging between 1 and 70, while the Mega Ball can be between 1 and 25. That means you need to cover 302,575,350 combinations to guarantee a jackpot.

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each so covering all combinations would cost $605,150,700. In some regions, you can also buy a “jackpot only” ticket that covers two combinations for $3. That means that if you want to guarantee a jackpot for the lowest possible investment, you could do it for “only” $453,863,025.

But it is not that easy to buy the winning combinations to win the lottery. Because while covering all of the possible combinations takes an astounding of money, some of the biggest lottery jackpots have advertised jackpots that outstrip what you’d need to pay to win them. Powerball’s biggest jackpot to date was advertised at $1.5 billion. Tripling your investment on a guaranteed jackpot sounds pretty good but the problem is that, while you can guarantee a jackpot win, you can’t guarantee that you will end up with a profit. Even with an advertised jackpot bigger than the amount you’d have to invest, there are costs that will eat into your earnings.

The calculations in getting the prize money

Powerball prize

Suppose with all the effort you win the jackpot in the lottery but you might have to split the jackpot with other winners. In the case of Powerball’s $1.5 billion jackpot, there were three winning tickets. That means even the simple math of $1.5 billion divided by three winning tickets would have brought the value of the prize below the $584,402,676 in ticket combinations you would’ve had to pay to guarantee the win.

Also, you have to do more than simple math to find out what you will net when you win the lottery and you have to pay taxes on those winnings. You can expect to pay at least 25% in federal taxes on your prize, and you might be responsible for state taxes on your jackpot as well, Depending on the state you live in, that could add up to another 8.82% that you need to pay to the government.

Then you’d have to consider whether you’ll take the lump-sum or annuity payout. You’ll only get the full advertised amount of the jackpot if you take the annuity option, but that means that you will have to wait 30 years until you see your return on investment. There are many other ways to invest half a million dollars that could be more profitable and offer more liquidity. If you take the lump-sum payout, you’ll receive significantly less money. In the case of the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot, each of the three winners took the lump sum and received $327.8 million instead of $500 million.

So far, the largest jackpot won by a single person was a $758.7 million dollar Powerball jackpot. Even then, the winner only walked away with $336 million after taxes and the lump-sum reduction, far less than it would have cost to buy all possible lottery combinations.

Keep aside the cost of hiring a lawyer or accountant to protect your interest which means further eating into your jackpot profits.

Buying lottery ticket when Jackpot Prize is BIG

Powerball jackpot prize

With a small jackpot, it may not be worth buying all of the possible ticket combinations. You must have seen that as the jackpot values rise, lottery fever kicks in and more and more people buy tickets. The more tickets get sold, the higher the chances that all possible combinations will be covered. So before the jackpots get close to big enough to be worth buying all the tickets, someone will almost certainly buy a winning ticket. When the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot was won, lottery fever was so high that 89 percent of all possible combinations had been purchased. It’s highly unlikely that a Powerball jackpot will ever get much higher than that.

The truth in winning the Powerball and Megamillion lottery

Powerball strategy to win

The truth in winning the Powerball and Megamillion lottery is to play lottery wisely and don’t be in the mad rush and buy the winning combinations spending your money and winning nothing. Also, treat the lottery as a fun game and a game of luck or chance. It’s just a game like slot machine, if it triggers on your favor you win otherwise you lose.

Many experts talk of a different strategy to win the lottery, but does all of the strategies go in your favor one cannot tell. Of course, you can try your hand at winning the lottery when the jackpot is higher than $100 million and risk $2 hoping to win.

The other strategy that seems fit is to do your math before you buy the ticket. Calculate from the previous winning numbers and find out which number often pops up in the draw and how many times that number wins. Rest assured keep cool and don’t chase your losses but play sensibly.