- The Powerball jackpot is up to $US625 million dollars.
- In January 2016, amid a media mania around the then-record billion-dollar prize, a segment on the Fox News morning show “Fox and Friends” suggested that a good strategy for winning the lottery is to “buy as many tickets as you can afford.”
- While technically true, this is probably a terrible idea.
The best piece of financial advice for playing the lottery is probably to not play the lottery, but in 2016, Fox News offered a very questionable suggestion for would-be gamblers.
Early that year, the Powerball lottery hit a jackpot of over a billion dollars for the first time. Amid the media mania surrounding the massive prize, liberal media-watchdog group Media Matters tweeted a screenshot from a “Fox and Friends” segment advising a simple strategy for maximizing your chances of winning the lottery: Buy as many tickets as you can afford.
This is technically true. Buying more lottery tickets does increase your chances of winning the lottery. In Powerball, there are 292,201,338 possible tickets. Buy one ticket, and you have a one in 292,201,338 chance of winning the jackpot. Buy two tickets, you have a two in 292,201,338 chance. And so on.
Fox News advice on how to win the lottery: pic.twitter.com/r6WBKqqCqL
— Media Matters (@mmfa) January 11, 2016
Even though buying more tickets technically increases your chances of winning, buying as many tickets as you can is probably a really bad idea.
The first problem is that your likelihood of winning is still incredibly low, even if you buy a bunch of tickets. Your odds of being struck by lightning in the next year are about 120 times higher than a two in 292,201,338 chance. Buying 10 tickets and giving yourself a 10 in 292,201,338 chance still leaves you about six times as likely to die in a plane crash as you are to win Powerball.
An even bigger problem is that this is a monumentally terrible idea from a financial perspective. Assuming you take the lump sum, which you likely should, and factoring in taxes, each one of those tickets has a negative expected value, meaning that each lottery ticket represents a likely loss of money. Buying more tickets, then, just increases the amount of money you’re likely to lose.
Buying a ton of lottery tickets, while making your chances of winning the jackpot marginally better, is a terrible “strategy.”
- Read more:
- The Powerball jackpot is $US625 million. We did the maths to see if you should buy a ticket
- How to win the lottery, according to a Romanian-born mathematician who hacked the system, won 14 times, and retired on a remote tropical island
- Here’s what 13 regular people did with their money after they won the lottery
- 20 lottery winners who lost every penny
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