Guest Post – Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Winners Beat the Odds

Three Mega Millions lottery tickets successfully matched all 5 number draws and the Mega Ball pick in the March 30 draw, earning them each one third of the $656 million jackpot. It is reported that over 1.5 billion Mega Million lottery tickets were sold for the draw. That means that from the time the jackpot rolled over after the Tuesday March 27th draw until the draw closed in anticipation for Friday night’s selection, an average of 21,126,760.6 tickets were sold an hour and 852,112 tickets were sold every single minute. Two days before the draw, tickets were selling in Pennsylvania at a rate of $500 per second or $30,000 per minute in Pennsylvania alone.


The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 175,711,536, which means that the chances of being the sole winner of this momentous jackpot were slim. To win the jackpot, a player must successfully match 5 balls out of a 56-number range (white balls) and 1 ball out of a 46-number range (red balls). To calculate the probability of winning, multiply all of the possible combinations of white balls (regardless of order) by all the possible winning red ball numbers. To calculate the odds of winning, multiply 56 x 55 x 54 x 53 x 52, then divide that by 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, which equals 3.82 millions, the chances of selecting all of the possible white balls. Multiply 3.82 million by the 46 red ball options to get 175,711,536, the odds of winning the jackpot.

 By dividing the 1.5 billion lottery ticket sales by the Mega Millions winning odds of approximately 1:176, one can see that statistically, there could have been 8.5 first prize winners. However, with many players entering multiple tickets with the same numbers, it is no surprise that the draw produced 3 winners instead of 8.

 To calculate the probability of there being only 1 winner for the Mega Millions lotto numbers, set up an equation with the number of tickets sold as T and the probability (175.7 million) X. The equation to calculate the probability of only one winner is (1-1/X)^T. When calculated, the results show that any jackpot winner for this specific lottery has less than a 3% chance of being the sole winner. Multiply .03 by T/X twice to see the odds of there being three winners (which was the outcome of the draw). There was a 10.5% chance that the Mega Millions jackpot was split between 3 players.

 The California Lottery Office estimated that due to huge numbers of lotto ticket sales, by the time the last ticket was sold before last Friday night’s draw, 95% of the possible number combinations were selected and sold. That means that the $656 million jackpot only had a 5% chance of rolling over a nineteenth consecutive time. However, if the Mega Millions jackpot had beaten those odds and rolled over again, the jackpot would have been set at a staggering $975 million, with potential to hit the $1 billion mark in a matter of days.


Austin Weaver is a recreational poker player who loves cricket and rugby, but his real passion is EuroMillions Lottery.  He is a content and blog writer for theLotter, an online lottery website selling tickets throughout the world.

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