Playing the lottery: Go for the thrill of it; or better yet, save your money

Someone, somewhere out there could be the winner of one of the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever — a whopping more than $1.2 billion.

The odds of winning are too painstakingly small that personally, “I’m not going to play,” said J.P. Morgan, a statistics expert at Virginia Tech University.

But while he said you should not get your hopes up, it might not hurt to play your lucky numbers, should you want to blow a couple of bucks on a ticket or two.

While your chances of winning are only 1 in about 302 million, the winning numbers are out there.

“Millions of people play over and over. Eventually someone will have to win,” Morgan said.

A chance to win over a billion bucks for only $2 isn’t bad, Morgan said, but he prefers a safer plan for his spare change.



Save that $4 you would have spent buying two tickets a week for a whole year, he suggested.

“At the end of the year, I’m going to have $208 that I wouldn’t have had if I had been playing that lottery. Now, I can take my sweetheart out to dinner,” he said.

But if you want to go “all in,” a guaranteed win would require playing every single possible combination of numbers, which could take just over 500 years if you played one set of numbers every one minute, Morgan said.

If you’re more on the more realistic side, you could make it more about entertainment than a real commitment to winning.

“There are lots of things that we pay for to entertain us, and if you get a thrill out of taking this chance and it costs you $2, that’s not much to pay for a little thrill,” Morgan said.

But since there’s a much better chance at walking away with a win after a night at the casino, don’t lose sleep over what you’d do with a billion bucks.

“Have fun, just don’t worry about the money side of it,” Morgan said.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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