After having no winners in over two months, the multi-state Mega Millions lottery jackpot has ballooned to $400 million, the second largest amount in the game's history. But there's a very good reason why no one has won since October 1, and why no one is likely to win tonight.
On October 22, the rules of the game were changed. Instead of picking 5 numbers between 1 and 46, you now have 75 numbers to choose from, changing your odds of winning from 1-in-176 million to 1-in-259 million. (The number of options for the sixth "Mega Ball" actually decreased by 15, but the odds still jump.) No one has matched all the numbers since the new rules took effect.
What that breaks down to is that "for every three winners under the old system, now there will be two," John Garnett, a UCLA math professor told the Los Angeles Times.
Fewer winners means bigger jackpots (which was the goal), but again, that means less of a chance you get to live like a king or queen. The prizes will get bigger, but they be given out less frequently, fewer people will become millionaires.
That also means lots of news outlets telling you that you are more likely to be in a plane crash, get struck by lightning in mid-air during your rapid descent, and then swallowed by a shark (or something close to that) than you are to win tonight's jackpot. "It's completely unfair ... They're making it harder to win so the jackpots get bigger and more people play," a disgruntled lottery player told The Times.
Clearly, this means that the odds are not in your favor (not that they ever were) and you should probably give up now. You should also tell all your friends to abandon their dreams too ...
so that the odds are better for me because math says so.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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