What Are the Odds of Winning the Lottery?

What Are the Odds of Winning the Lottery
If you’re wondering what your odds are of winning the lottery, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve developed this page to help you get a firm understanding of what your chances are of scoring a massive lottery win. On top of discussing the odds, you’ll also find other helpful information such as tips on how you can increase your odds of winning and details on the most significant lotteries ever won.

In this guide about the odds of winning the lottery, we’ll cover many different aspects of the topic. You can preview all the different sections directly below. Just click on any one of these titles if you’d like to jump ahead immediately.

Odds of Winning Popular Lotteries

To kick things off, we first wanted to provide you with an idea of what your odds are of winning some of the top lotteries. Check these out to begin to get an idea of just how lucky you’ll have to be to strike it rich by buying a winning ticket.

Mega Millions Logo

Mega Millions
1 in 302,575,350

Powerball Logo

1 in 292,201,338

Lucky for Life Logo

Lucky for Life
1 in 30,821,472

Lotto America Logo

Lotto America
1 in 302,575,350

Cash4Life  Logo

1 in 302,575,350

10 Things That Have a Better Chance of Occurring Than Winning the Lottery

After checking out the section above, you still might be having a tough time quantifying just how likely it is for you to win a major lottery prize. To help you put things into perspective, we’ve included some samples below of 10 things you’re more likely to have happen to you than winning one of the lotteries featured above.

  • Struck by Lightning
    Getting Struck by Lightning
    1 in 2,000,000

  • Plane Crash
    Getting in a Plane Crash
    1 in 11,000,000

  • Shark Attack
    Getting Attacked by a Shark
    1 in 3,750,000

  • Oscar
    Winning an

    1 in 11,500

  • Medal
    Winning an Olympic Gold Medal
    1 in 662,000

  • Astronaut
    Becoming an

    1 in 12,100,000

  • Lincoln Monument
    Becoming President of the United States
    1 in 10,000,000

  • Thermostat
    Dying From Hot Tap Water
    1 in 5,000,000

  • Movie
    Becoming a
    Movie Star

    1 in 1,500,000

  • Twins
    Having Conjoined Twins
    1 in 200,000

Lottery Payouts by State

Up next, we wanted to provide you with a picture of the different lottery payouts by state. Using the diagram below, you can get an idea of where your state stands compared to others. As you can see, there’s a significant difference between many states across the country.

Lottery Payout By State

This graphic depicts the amount of money each state pays out on average for each dollar that goes in. States like Massachusetts and Arkansas return more of the funds to winners than states at the other end of the spectrum like South Dakota and Delaware.

If you reside in one of the states with a higher payout, it means your state is keeping less for themselves and paying more out to the winners. However, it’s worth pointing out that a state with a low payout doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad lottery. Instead, these states are retaining more of the lottery revenues to aid with things like employee salaries, building schools, and other projects.

Ways to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery

Are you interested in increasing your odds of winning a lottery? If so, check out the list of ideas below. Here, we’ve included some tips you can use to increase your chances of walking away a winner.

Let Computers Do the Picking

Computer With CodeWhen buying a lotto ticket, you’ll usually have the chance to either pick your numbers or allow a computer to pick them for you. When given this choice, we’d suggest you let the computer select your lucky numbers. The reason behind this is Powerball recently reported more than 70% of their winners used the quick pick option.

When we manually select numbers, we tend only to pick numbers which have significant importance in our life. For example, we might use our birthdates or those of loved ones. Another typical number play is to use something relating to your anniversary. While there’s nothing wrong with going this route, there seems to be substantial evidence that you’re better off using a computer to help you pick your numbers to increase your odds of winning.

Make Use of Second Chance Games When Possible

While not overly common, select states like Kentucky provide select lottery games with a second chance component. With these games, if you don’t win the main prize, you’re eligible for what’s considered a second chance prize. While the reward associated with these second chance drawings isn’t usually as massive as the main prize, they can still be rather substantial.

However, what’s great about these second chance games is they offer your ticket more odds to win without you needing to spend more money towards the second drawing. Whenever possible, try to purchase lottery tickets with this option to help increase your chances of winning.

Check Your Tickets

While it might seem crazy, one thing which can significantly help your chances of winning the lottery is to ensure you check your tickets to see if you had a winning combination or not. All too often, lottery tickets are forgotten or misplaced. In one recent sample, a jackpot worth almost $300,000,000 was not claimed.

While a jackpot that large going unclaimed isn’t all too common, smaller winning tickets are. Be sure to establish a plan to check your winning numbers, so you never miss the chance to receive your earnings. In many states, you can quickly scan your tickets with a machine at local gas stations and grocery stores. Thanks to these, each ticket can be analyzed within a matter of seconds to see if it’s a winner or not.

Buy More Tickets With a Lottery Pool

Lottery TicketsIf you work in any sort of office environment, then you’ve probably come across a lottery pool at one point or another. These are pretty common whenever massive lottery jackpots come about. With a lottery pool, a group of individuals buys a large number of tickets together using shared money.

What’s fantastic about a lottery pool is you can invest a relatively small amount of money but have higher chances of winning since the pool is purchasing many more tickets than you would have as an individual. However, a drawback is if you win, you’ll be splitting your winnings with everyone else in your pool, meaning you’ll receive less. However, receiving millions of dollars can still be a massive win for most, even if it’s divvied up among a group of friends or colleagues.

If you’re thinking about joining or starting a lottery pool, check out this article filled with tips from USA Today.

Play Games With Better Odds

Another excellent way to increase your chances of winning the lottery is to play games with better odds of winning. When it comes to major national lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball, the odds of winning are astronomical, as we showcased above. However, not all lottery games have odds that high. If you’d like a better chance of winning, choose games with lower odds. While the associated prizes might not be nearly as large, you still have a better chance of walking away with cash in your pocket by playing them versus others.

Buy More Tickets

Another way you can increase your odds of winning the lottery is by buying additional tickets. While it doesn’t increase your odds very much, every little bit helps when you’re chasing the big prize.

Be sure to watch your budget if you plan on using this approach, so you don’t end up spending too much on lotto tickets.

We’ll cover this in more detail in the section which follows below.

Don’t Play Card Patterns

Some lotto players use patterns when filling out their ticket card. For example, some might make lines, diagonals, or an “X” on the card. The problem with doing this is it makes it more likely that you’ll have to split the prize if your numbers end up winning. The reason behind this is others may be using the same patterns. Therefore, if you win, they do too, and you’ll get a lower amount of cash.

How Much Your Odds Change With Each Ticket Purchased

As we mentioned above, buying more than one ticket is one way you can increase your odds of winning the lottery. However, the difference in odds is rather negligible when you’re working with one of the large national lotteries like Powerball or Mega Millions.

Up Trending GraphHere’s a sample. For the Mega Millions, your odds of winning with a single ticket are 1 in 302,575,350. If you purchase a couple of tickets, your odds change to 2 in 302,575,350. As you can see, this hardly makes a dent in anything. Even if you purchased 1,000 tickets, you’re still looking at odds of 1,000 in 302,575,350.

Technically, your odds do increase a smidge each time you purchase a new ticket. However, it would take a significant number of tickets for you to make a giant swing in your chances of winning the jackpot.

How Much People Spend on Lottery Tickets

With so much potential money on the line from some of the largest lotteries around the world, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn folks spend lots of money buying lottery tickets. But how much are we talking?

According to CNN, it’s estimated that Americans spent roughly $73,500,000 on lottery tickets in 2016. In total, it breaks down to an average of $325 per adult in the United States. However, not all residents of the US play the lottery.

In this chart below from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can see a breakdown of the estimated quarterly expenses by age group. You’ll notice the age group spending the most on lottery tickets and pari-mutuel betting are folks between 65 and 74 years of age. On average, people in this group are spending more than $130 a quarter on these activities. Across the course of a year, it adds up to more than $500 per person playing.

Average Lottery Player Age

The popularity of lottery expenditures in the United States has quickly swelled over the last few decades. In the image below, you can see the rapid increase in state and local lottery revenue since 1977. Since 1992, the income from these state and local lotteries has nearly tripled to more than $25,000,000 annually. One thing worth noting is this chart doesn’t include national lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball.

State and Local Lottery Revenue in the US

Top Five Biggest Lotteries Ever Won

Over the years, there have been some individuals lucky enough to score some massive sums of money thanks to their winning lottery tickets. Check out the scoop below about the five largest lotteries ever won.

#1: $1,586,000,000 Powerball

$1,586,000,000 PowerballIn early January 2016, the Powerball prize pool had swelled to the largest amount ever at more than $1.5 billion. When the dust settled after the drawing, three winning tickets across the country were in the hands of some fortunate individuals. The winners residing in California, Florida, and Tennessee split the pot three ways. In total, they each received more than $528,000,000!

#2: $1,537,000,000 Mega Millions

$1,537,000,000 Mega MillionsMore recently than the large Powerball win above, there was a Mega Millions jackpot nearly as massive. In late October 2018, there was a single lucky winner for this stunning jackpot. The winner is a woman from the state of South Carolina who chose to remain anonymous thanks to the state’s regulations allowing this. The winning individual opted for the lump-sum payment of roughly $878,000,000!

#3: $768,400,000 Powerball

A 24-year-old male from New Berlin, Wisconsin was the lucky winner of this huge Powerball prize in March of 2019.

After becoming the third-largest winner of all time in the history of the lottery, Manuel Franco opted to take a lump sum of $768,400,000 instead of the annuity payout option.

#4: $758,700,000 Powerball

In August of 2017, Mavis Wanczyk became the largest single lottery jackpot winner of all time. Living in Massachusetts, she claimed a Powerball prize worth more than $750,000,000.

With a lottery payout this large, the federal tax withholding would be roughly $120.1 million of that $758,000,000 payday.

#5: $687,800,000 Powerball

Rounding out the top five largest lottery wins of all time is a Powerball pot, which nearly reached $700,000,000. In this case of this Powerball jackpot, it was split between two winning tickets. One of the winners was from Iowa and the other from New York. Interestingly, the winner from Iowa misplaced the ticket for a period. Eventually, the ticket was found in her sister’s truck on the floor. Lucky for her, it was located, allowing her to claim her share of this massive prize.

Check out this chart below from Statista to visualize the size of these jackpots along with some other most substantial lottery wins of all time.

Biggest Lottery Jackpots in the US

What to Do If You Win a Mega Lottery

If you’ve just won a massive lottery prize, congratulations! However, before you head off to claim your prize and start spending all your newfound money, you might want to take a step back to help protect yourself and your precious funds. Check out the suggestions below for steps you should take after winning a large lottery prize.

Secure Your Ticket

First things first, you’ll want to protect your winning ticket. As you’ll see below, we suggest you wait a bit before claiming your prize so that you can get things in place. However, what’s important here is you protect your ticket from loss or theft in the meantime.

Before locking it away somewhere safe, make a few copies of the front and back of the winning ticket.

You’ll be able to use these with any professionals you decide to hire to assist you through the process. Ideally, lock your winning lottery ticket in a bank’s safe deposit box. However, if you have a very secure home safe, you can also consider locking it away there. Just ensure it’s not a safe which can be easily removed from your home.

Don’t Rush

It can be exciting to think about what you’ll do with all your money if you’ve just found out you have a winning ticket. However, before you rush to cash your ticket in, we’d suggest taking a step back. With so much money, you’ll want to ensure you take calculated steps as opposed to just going by your gut.

However, one thing to keep in mind is you only have a certain amount of time to turn in your ticket. Typically, it’s many months. While you’ll want to take your time and not rush things, it’s also vital you claim your prize before the clock runs out.

Seek Professional Help

If you end up winning a substantial amount of cash through a lottery, we’d highly advise you to seek help from professionals. You’ll want to consider getting a team of accountants, financial planners, and lawyers on your side to help you navigate your next steps.

Financial AdvisorWhile all these professionals will cost you some of your lottery winnings, it can be money well spent. For example, lawyers can help you work to lower your profile and stay out of the public eye. In addition, accountants and financial planners can help you assess whether you should take the lump sum or payment plan and how you can get the most out of your winnings.

Something to consider is to look for professionals who have experience with sudden windfalls of cash. While your local attorney or financial advisor might be great individuals, they may not be the right fit for your needs if you’re dealing with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Be sure to interview all prospective professionals to ensure they’re the perfect fit for your needs.

Mum’s the Word

If you end up winning a massive sum from a lottery, it’s understandable you might want to tell everyone about it. However, that’s not a good idea. To help protect your privacy, we’d suggest telling as few people as possible initially. Unfortunately, each person you share the good news with could potentially spread it to other people you didn’t want it shared with. Once you meet with your team of professionals, you can work with them to determine the proper time to share the news with family and friends.

Go Anonymous (If You Can)

Anonymous MaskDepending on the state you live in, you may have the option to claim your winning lottery prize anonymously. If this is possible for you, we’d highly recommend it as it will help better protect your privacy.

Sadly, many states don’t allow this option. Instead, winners of large lotteries are forced to be named publicly. Additionally, it may also be required to attend media sessions where the winner’s face is then blasted all over coverage. In these scenarios, it quickly outs the lottery winner and makes them more well-known to the public. In turn, their privacy is reduced.

Don’t Quit Your Job (Yet)

As much as it’s nice to dream about walking into your job to tell them you quit after your massive lottery win, it’s not the best idea initially. For starters, by doing this, you’ll increase the chances of more folks finding out about your recent win. However, more importantly, it could be months before you have the lottery cash in your bank accounts. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to continue working to ensure all your bills are paid on time.

Establish a Budget

You might think we’re crazy here suggesting you establish a budget after winning millions of dollars but hear us out. Unfortunately, many folks who win the lottery end up broke. By winning the lottery, you’re more likely to declare bankruptcy within the following three to five years than someone who didn’t.

The core reason behind this is a lack of budgeting. With a large wad of money in the bank, many lottery winners don’t see any need to create a plan for their money. However, even millions of dollars can be quickly whittled down with careless and untracked spending. To help increase your chances of keeping your money for the long haul, work with financial planners to help you establish a smart budget plan.

To read more about why lottery winners go broke, check out this article from CNBC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still searching for some answers relating to your odds of winning a lottery? If so, be sure to scan the frequently asked questions below to see if they can help.

  • Are Lottery Winnings Taxable?

    Yes. In the United States, lottery winnings will be taxable if the prize is over $600. If you end up winning a substantial jackpot, it’s best to consult with a tax accountant and attorney to understand the potential impact taxes will have on your overall take-home money.

  • How Many States Have a State Lottery Currently?

    Right now, 45 of the states and the District of Columbia offer their residents with access to some form of lottery games. Currently, only Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, and Utah don’t provide any lottery options to their residents.

  • What Happens If I Misplace a Winning Ticket?

    Sadly, there’s nothing you can do if you end up losing a winning lottery ticket. Without the physical ticket itself, you won’t be able to claim your prize. Even photographic proof won’t help. If you’ve misplaced a winning lottery ticket, try retracing your steps to see where you might have stored it. Also, if it’s a winning lottery ticket for a large sum of real money, remember to safely lock it away as soon as possible in a safety deposit box or safe.

  • Can Multiple Individuals Claim a Lottery Prize?

    Absolutely! It’s always an option to pool your money with coworkers, friends, or family if you’d like to increase your odds of winning the lottery. Just don’t forget you’ll all be splitting the prize if one of your tickets ends up being the winner.


We hope you enjoyed everything you were able to learn from this page about your odds of winning the lottery.

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