Lottery Odds

It is a well known fact that many people play the lottery, but have you ever wondered what the odds of hitting the jackpot are. Well, you might be disappointed when we tell you that they aren`t working in your favor. Still, there are people who do hit the jackpot, so you are probably thinking that that person could easily be you.

lottery odds powerball ticket

The most interesting part of playing the lottery is to figure out your chances of winning by using different strategies.

Here, you can find out what are the odds of winning the two of the biggest lotteries out there, Powerball and Mega Millions.

What are the chances of winning The Powerball?

The chances of winning The Powerball are really small. You have to be extremely lucky to predict all the right numbers, and you have 1 in 292,201,338 chance to d that.

There are some things you can do to improve your chances though, for instance you can buy more tickets to start with. But to be honest, this won`t make a huge difference either. We are talking about a game that features a $40 million minimum jackpot, so if you feel lucky than you should go for it.

Here are some statistics behind some of those odds, and we will try to make it as simple as possible. So, for every Powerball drawing there are 5 white balls and 1 red ball. These 6 balls represent the winning numbers for that given draw.

powerball odds per year

The first thing we will dive into is the total number of possible combinations for the first 5 numbers. For the first ball there are 69 possible numbers in the pool, and for the second draw there are 68 possible numbers. The reason behind this is because same numbers can`t be drawn twice. For the third, there are 67 possible numbers and so on. You get the drift.

This gives us the following computation for the white ball combinations:

69*68*67*66*65 = 1,348,621,560

This looks quite simple, but it is not completely right though. This is because the order of the numbers is not important. You would both win if the numbers were drawn as 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. This means you need to add an extra step to the formula. You need to divide the number of possible combinations with the number of possible orders in which 5 numbers can be drawn:

5*4*3*2*1 = 120

This means there are 120 possible orders for a set of 5 numbers.

Then you have to divide the first number we got with 120.

1,348,621,560 / 120 = 11,238,513

These calculations only account for the first 5 numbers and we still have to include the probability of matching the red Powerball to find the real odds of winning the Powerball.

lotto odds formula

The red number is drawn separately from a pool of 26 numbers so that means you have a 1 in 26 chance to match it. So, if we continue our formula, we need to divide the previous number, 1,348,621,560, with this probability:

1,348,621,560 / 26 = 292,201,338

So finally we have come to the number that shows your chances of winning the Powerball. But this is only for the big jackpot. If you are still wondering what this number represent, it represents the possible winning number combinations that can be drawn. And thus, they are your odds of matching them perfectly.

But the thing with Powerball is that there is not only the big prize. You can play for 8 other prize tiers waiting for you. So the chances to win now are 1 in 25, which is more acceptable, and they go like this:

  • If you predict the 5 main numbers and the Powerball you win the jackpot. The chances for that are 1 in 292,201,338.
  • If you predict the 5 main numbers only you will win $1 Million. The chances for that are 1 in 11,688,054.
  • If you predict 4 numbers and the Powerball you will win $50,000. The chances for that are 1 in 913,129.
  • If you predict the 4 main numbers you will win $100. The chances for that are 1 in 36,525.
  • If you predict the 3 main numbers and the Powerball you will win $100. The chances for that are 1 in 14,494.
  • If you predict the 3 main numbers you will win $7. The chances for that are 1 in 580.
  • If you predict the 2 main numbers and the Powerball you will win $7. The chances for that are 1 in 701.
  • If you predict 1 main number and the Powerball you will win $4. The chances for that are 1 in 92.
  • If you predict the Powerball only you will win $4. The chances for that are 1 in 38.
lotto odds table

So, if you are happy with any of these prizes, not the jackpot only then your chances aren`t so bad after all. Just remember that there are people who have won the lottery multiple times, so you can be that person everyone talks about too.

What are the chances of winning the Mega Millions?

Winning the Mega Millions jackpot is not easy with chances of hitting the jackpot being 1 in 302,575,350. That`s one huge number, you have to admit.

So, the odds are not in your favor with this jackpot either. So, let`s see where those numbers come from. You will need your calculators for sure, unless you are a math whiz.

In order to find the number of possible winning draw combinations, we need to take into account the 5 white balls and the golden Mega Ball.

The 5 white balls are drawn from a pool of 70, so there are 70 possible numbers for the first ball. The second ball is drawn from a pool of 69, so there are 69 possible numbers for it, and so on. So this can be represented like this:

70*69*68*67*66 = 1,452,361,680

This means there are 1,452,361,680 possible white ball combinations.

The specific order of numbers is not important here, so for that reason we need to remove the redundant combinations from the pool. We can do that just by dividing the number of possible combinations with the number of possible orders in which 5 numbers can be drawn. To simplify this we can make the following calculation:

5*4*3*2*1 = 120

This means that there are 120 possible orders for a set of 5 numbers.

Next step is to divide the first number we got with 120:

1,452,361,680 / 120 = 12,103,014

Next to add the golden Mega Ball into the mix to come up with the number that represents the odds of winning the Mega Million jackpot. The golden Mega Ball is drawn from a pool of 25 numbers, so the chances of match are 1 in 25. So again, we have to multiply the previous number we got with 25, and that will look something like this:

12,103,014 * 25 = 302,575,350

There is 1 in 302,575,350 chance for you to pick the right numbers for the $40 million grand prize. With 300 million possible draws, your chances are very slim. But you can buy more tickets and improve your odds. But if you are not ready to shed thousands, then this will make no difference at all.

lottery odds vs general odds

If you look at the game from different perspective, you can still see that there are lower prize tiers you can go for. You need to match some numbers, since the chances to match them all are nearly impossible. The odds of winning secondary prizes are much better. So, here are the prize tiers and the odds of winning it:

  • If you predict the 5 main numbers and the Mega Ball you win the jackpot. The chances for that are 1 in 302,575,350.
  • If you predict 5 main numbers only you will win $1 Million. The chances for that are 1 in 12,607,306.
  • If you predict the 4 main numbers and the Mega Ball you will win $10,000. The chances for that are 1 in 931,001.
  • If you predict the 4 main numbers you will win $500. The chances for that are 1 in 38,792.
  • If you predict the 3 main numbers and the Mega Ball you will win $200. The chances for that are 1 in 14,547.
  • If you predict the 3 main numbers you will win $10. The chances for that are 1 in 606.
  • If you predict the 2 main numbers and the Mega Ball you will win $10. The chances for that are 1 in 693.
  • If you predict only 1 main number and the Mega Ball you will win $4. The chances for that are 1 in 89.
  • If you predict the Mega Ball only you will win $2. The chances for that are 1 in 37.

Mega Millions Megaplier

There is an extra feature that Mega Millions offers for just $1 which is called Megaplier. This feature allows you to multiply non-jackpot prizes by up to 5 times.

There is a separate drawing that determines the Megaplier multiplier. There are 15 numbered balls each marked with a number from 2x to 5x. So, if you are looking to earn any prize than there are plenty of things you can do and take advantage of when it comes to Mega Millions.

Mega Millions vs Powerball Odds

Even though the chances to win the jackpot at either Mega Millions or Powerball are slim, still that doesn`t put off any of the players who regularly participate in these games. Both games have similar structure and they cost the same $2 per play.

Statistically speaking you will have more wins when you play Mega Millions, but that is not the case in reality. All in all, you should play the game you want to play more, or play both Mega Millions and Powerball and hope for the best results.