We've all heard the saying, "The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math." What this alludes to is the fact that lotteries are gambling games with an extremely large house advantage. The Powerball, which the MUSL calls "America's Game", is particularly alluring because the odds of winning the jackpot are much lower than other lotteries, and therefore, for the same ticket price, they offer a much larger jackpot. As with any lottery, the government runs it as a revenue source. They can do this because if they sell enough lottery tickets, they come out ahead. The reverse is true for you. If you purchase enough lottery tickets in each drawing, you will always come out behind. In other words, the lottery is a game that can only be won in the short run.
How to pick winning numbers
Unless you possess a time machine, there is no way to choose numbers that are more likely to win than anybody else. Each combination of numbers has a one in 120,526,770 chance to win, and the lottery machine doesn't care if the numbers are too close together, or if they're your family's birthday or whatever.
While no number is more likely to win, there are clearly ways to pick better numbers. You want to pick your numbers randomly. Why? If you choose your numbers randomly, you have a smaller chance of matching other people. Only 70 percent of the participants use "Quick Pick" to purchase their tickets, which means that the remaining 30 percent pick their numbers in some other way (such as off of fortune cookies). Because these people do not usually pick truly random numbers, these 30 percent are more likely to have identical tickets, and if they win, they would have to share the jackpot with each other. If you think you might win, you'll want the jackpot to yourself, so you'll want to pick your numbers randomly.
The best way to pick random numbers for the powerball is to use your own Beitel Criterion drawing machine, and balls identical to the ones used in the actual drawing. This ensures that your random numbers are random in the same way that the powerball is random. You may be able to pick one up by lurking outside ITC Studios in Des Moines, Iowa, and hoping that they decide to throw one out. However, for most of us, a Quick Pick ticket is random enough not to match other people, and it comes free with your purchase.
How many tickets to buy (odds analysis)
You could buy all of the tickets. This will ensure that you will win the jackpot prize. Your investment will be $120,526,770. Your winnings will be $20,888,592 plus whatever the jackpot is, minus the appropriate taxes.
Unfortunately, this plan has a few fatal flaws. First, most drawings do not have a high enough jackpot to make this worthwhile. Second, you would be violating the rules on drawing randomly. By purchasing all tickets, you're maximizing the chance of sharing the winning number because you've matched every other ticket holder. More people play when the jackpot is higher, so you're matching many more people. Winning big with the powerball depends on matching as few people as possible, while still matching the winning numbers.
So, how many tickets should you purchase? For the optimal return on investment, you should definitely purchase zero tickets. For every extra dollar you spend above this amount, you're going to lose over eighty-two cents, unless you win the jackpot. If you can get tickets for free, as presents or whatever, do it. This is the best deal in the universe, even if you end up sharing some of the winnings with the person who bought the ticket. If you have to purchase tickets yourself, buy one per drawing. This ticket has as much chance of winning as any other ticket. Plus, because the lottery is a game you can only win in the short term, this extends the short term for as long as possible.
Why play the lottery?
The lottery is entertainment. I would argue that it is good for people to play the lottery because it is the sort of entertainment that fosters creativity. What would you do with that much money? At any rate, if you spend the same money going to movies, you'll only see a movie once every three or four weeks, and that money is simply wasted. With the lottery, you get to constantly imagine what you'd do with the money, and you even have a chance of getting that money.
Because in the long run, the lottery is just a cheap form of government sanctioned entertainment, there are other things that you can do that anecdotally improve your return on investment.
There are many ways that rituals can be performed, but here, we will focus on rituals on lottery tickets themselves, because this is the physical manifestation of the lottery that each participant has access to.
The most obvious ritual to perform on a lottery ticket is to fill out the form on the back of the ticket. People do this because they are afraid of winning, and then not being able to write the information down, and somebody else might take their ticket. This is a very bad idea. You might as well rip your ticket in half, because if you write your name on it, you will not match a single number. Besides, what if you only won three dollars (the smallest prize)? Do you want the guy at the convenience store to think that you actually thought that was worth signing your name for?
Wands and potions seem to have little worth in a lottery. Even my traffic wand (that clears traffic jams for me) has seemingly no effect when applied to a lottery ticket. Potions are even worse. I've never had success with a potion, and if you use a potion, you risk blurring or even erasing your ticket!
You can increase the odds of winning by writing on the face of the ticket. If you're using a highlighter, you can write anywhere. Pen users can stick to the margins. Write motivational phrases like, "This is the one!", or "Now Jimmy won't break my legs!". Alternatively, you can simply write what you're going to purchase with the ticket, such as, "Yacht", "Mansion", or "Hit money for Jimmy." Experienced writers can write witching symbols such as pentagrams all over the ticket. Just be careful that you know what these symbols really mean. Whatever you do, never highlight or circle individual numbers on a ticket, unless you just like really expensive toilet paper.
Voodoo doesn't work on lottery tickets because the only owner of that ticket is you. However, you can have a little fun by making a voodoo doll of the person announcing the drawing on TV, and stabbing him during the drawing. Please recognize that the drawing takes place at 10:59 pm EST, and that your viewing of the drawing is probably delayed by some amount of time, so you're kind of stabbing blind.
Now that you have more information about the lottery, you can go out and play responsibly. This basically means that you should not buy lottery tickets with your grocery money. Instead, use your mortgage money, because you can fall behind six months before they foreclose on you. I hope that this article has convinced more of you to play because this makes the jackpot go up faster, and my payoff will be greater when I win.