Monday morning, liberal media watchdog group Media Matters tweeted a screenshot allegedly from Fox News 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.
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 ten tickets and giving yourself a ten in 292,201,338 chance still leaves you about 6 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.”
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