With a Mega Millions lottery craze taking over the U.S., some of you may be wondering; what’s all the fuss about?
I’m sure you’ve heard the negatives of playing the lottery. “You’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to win the lottery.” Recently, mathematicians started using even more horrifying statistics to illustrate how bad it is to play the lottery.
“You’re more likely to be murdered than to win the lottery.”
“OMG”, you think, “I don’t want to be murdered. So, maybe I shouldn’t play the lottery and nothing bad will happen.”
Personally, I’ve never been much of an advocate of playing the lottery. In fact, I’ve never played it because it is in fact, bad math.
Today, that’s about to change.
Here’s why. With the Mega Millions jackpot reaching a record $540 million dollars (over half a billion), for once the lottery is a good bet – or at least not that bad of one.
Here are the reasons why if you don’t play the lottery, today you should.
1. It Has Good Expected Value
Sure, the odds of winning the Mega Millions are astronomical. But if you look at it from the point-of-view of expected value, the gamble makes sense.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 176 million to 1. The jackpot is $540 million. If you take the lump sum payment of $390 million (which you should always do), you’re getting a little over 2 to 1 on your money. Meaning for every $1 ticket you buy, you can expect to win $2 back in the long run.
While that kind of bet is a dream to anyone who likes winning money, gambling pro, Michael Bluejay says not to consider expected value when it comes to the lottery because you’re playing in the short term. He goes on to say
“The only thing that really matters when buying a lottery ticket is this: Is the chance of winning $X jackpot worth a dollar to you, if the odds are Y to 1 against your winning? If yes, then buy one. If not, then don’t. But don’t even consider the expected value, because it’s self-defeating.”
While that may be true, looking at the expected value helps math geeks like me justify playing a game where you’re more likely to get mauled by a bear than win.
2. It’s Cheap Entertainment
At $1 per ticket, it’s an inexpensive way to enjoy a little excitement. And the more you buy, the better your odds of winning.
So my advice to you is this; ditch the night out at the movies, buy $20 in Mega Millions tickets, and pop some popcorn while you watch the drawing live.
3. You Can Be a Part of History
With lottery fever gripping the nation, $1 is a small price to pay to be a part of this historic event. Whether you’re a regular player, or a first-timer, it doesn’t matter. Because everyone has a shot at winning a piece of the world record setting Mega Millions jackpot.
What would you do with $640 million dollars?