A Deeper Dive Into America's Lottery System

Hey America…you really like the lottery don’t you?  Sure seems like it.  You spent over $70 billion in lotto tickets last year. That’s billion…with a B. That’s more than the country spent on sporting event tickets, movie tickets, books, video games, and music…combined.

To put it all in perspective, your chances of being struck by lightning once in your lifetime are one in 6,250.  Your chances of being crushed by a meteorite are one in 700,000.  Your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 175 million.  That doesn’t seem too bad though when you compare with the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot which are one in…258.9 million. (Gasp).

So why do American’s keep shelling out for a serious long shot? Is there a formula to hitting the jackpot?  And does where you live play a part?

Here are some lottery facts to ponder before pushing your luck…

  • Last Wednesday's jackpot, with an estimated total payout of $563 million, was the third-largest in Powerball history and the fifth-largest U.S. lottery prize.
  • From 2009 to 2014, lottery sales have jumped from $58.25 million to $70.15 million.
  • If you divvy the lotto billions spent evenly throughout the United States… each person averages about $220 purchased every year.
  • Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
  • Six states, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah don't participate in Powerball. (In fact, they have no state-run lottery whatsoever.)
  • Utah, Mississippi and Alabama do not have a lottery citing religious reasons, while Nevada’s casinos have assumed complete control of the gambling for their state.
  • Is the key to winning in the Keystone State?  As of 2013, the Pennsylvania has had the most Powerball jackpot winners in history with a record 16.  Followed closely by Indiana at 11 Powerball wins and Louisiana with eight Powerball wins.
  • If you spent one dollar playing Mega Millions the chances of winning another dollar are one in 21.
  • As of this publication date, the state of Minnesota is considering imposing a “warning label” on all lottery advertisements; similar to the ones you see on alcohol/cigarette ads.

Thanks for the help as always, Internet.