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If you must buy Lottery Tickets, buy these

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User ID: 28593071
11/27/2012 04:12 PM
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If you must buy Lottery Tickets, buy these
At $500 million, the Powerball lottery has never been a better bet.
Buying all 175,223,510 possible lottery tickets isnít the worst idea youíve ever had.

The jackpot in Wednesdayís Powerball lottery, a drawing across two-thirds of the United States, is up to a record $500 million. And while itís never a good idea to buy a lottery ticket, if you insist, now may actually be the best time to go all-in on this investment. Letís break down the odds.

Lottery players have long dreamed of making the perfect bet: buy every possible combination of numbers to guarantee yourself a jackpot and, if the pot is large enough, profit the difference. Powerball tickets cost $1 each, and you can play the numbers 175,223,510 different ways, so with a sizable but short-term loan, you ought to pocket about $325 million on this investment, right?

Well, no. There are taxes to consider, and prizes arenít paid all at once, but more to the point: as jackpots grow and the number of tickets sold increases, so do the chances of multiple winners splitting the pot. Hereís a chart by Jeremy Elson showing a strong correlation between the jackpot size and ticket sales for a very similar American lottery, MegaMillions: [link to qz.com]