Mega Millions: Among the reasons to play, one Kansas City mathematician gives a reason not to

Posted at 3:59 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 17:55:40-04

The hype is hard to escape as everyone seems to want a piece of the prize. But one Kansas City man won't win the life-changing half a billion dollars because he says he's not even playing.

"I think I bought five tickets on my 18th birthday when I was first able to buy lotto tickets," said Bill Morgan. "But since then, I have not bought lotto tickets. The odds are not in my favor."

And Morgan should know - he's a mathematician and professor at Metropolitan Community College.

"If you lined up baseballs from Boston to Los Angeles and you drove all the miles from Boston to Los Angeles looking and had to pick out one baseball that is the winning jackpot, your odds of doing that is four times greater than of winning the Mega Millions jackpot," he reiterated from Durango Bill's website. "I don't think that people don't understand the magnitude of the odds and how much they are not in your favor for playing the lotto."

For those of you wondering, it's one in nearly 260 million. Which means that if you gave nearly every single man, woman and child in the U.S. a random ticket, only about one of them would likely have the winning numbers.

"The odds of winning the jackpot don't change depending on the amount of the jackpot," he said. "$200 million is the same as if it's $600 million. The part that does change is the higher the jackpot gets, the more people buy tickets, and the more people buy tickets, the more chance you have of sharing with someone else."

So your overall winnings could actually be less than if you played a lower jackpot amount.

"Playing the jackpot, for every dollar you spend, you end up getting back about 60 cents, so it's a very bad investment."

Which is why Morgan advices - if you really want to make money - to put that $5, $50 or $100 into an investment account.


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