Can you increase the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot?

(NEXSTAR) — No ticket was able to match the winning Mega Millions numbers drawn on Friday, pushing the jackpot to an estimated $650 million ahead of Tuesday’s drawing.

This jackpot, which has been growing since December when two tickets (both sold at the same California gas station) landed a $394 million prize in December, ranks as the seventh-largest in Mega Millions history. Without a big winner last week, the current prize amount surpassed the $648 million prize awarded to two ticketholders in 2013.

The pot will, of course, continue to build until someone is lucky enough to beat the overwhelming odds and match the six numbers necessary to win it.

Your chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 302.6 million, or slightly worse than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot. You actually have a better chance of being attacked by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park (roughly 1 in 2.7 million for all park visitors) or an alligator in Florida (about 1 in 3.1 million, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

But, is it possible to increase your odds at the $650 million jackpot?

Some data suggests certain numbers may be more likely to win. Since October 2017, when the main ball pool shifted from 75 to 70 and the Mega Ball pool grew from 15 to 25, the five most frequently-drawn white balls are 10, 3, 17, 14, and 46, and the most frequently-drawn gold Mega Balls are 11, 22, 18, 24, and 13, according to Lotto America. Out of all those numbers, only Mega Ball 24 was drawn on Friday.

Maybe you’re more inclined to play a number that’s “overdue.” If that’s the case, Lotto America suggests 48, 56, 51, 24, and 63 for the main numbers, or 23, 19, 9, 5, and 14 for the gold ball.

If you’re focused on picking the right combination of the above numbers, you may want to reconsider. 

As Rong Chen, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Statistics in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick explains, all combinations of numbers have the same chance of winning (1 in 302.6 million). That means the numbers drawn on Friday have the same chance of being drawn again on Tuesday.

You could instead, opt for numbers that others would be less likely to select. This won’t increase your odds of winning, but it could decrease your odds of having to share the Mega Millions jackpot with another winner. To do this, Chen suggests avoiding numbers between 1 and 31 (many people like to use their birthday or other dates when selecting their numbers) or those on the edges and corners of the ticket form.

Your odds of winning will still be the same, though.

You may have heard of other methods used by lottery players trying to increase their chances of winning. There’s lottery wheeling — picking a group of numbers and playing every combination or permutation of those numbers — or selecting numbers that are “hot” or “cold,” meaning they have or haven’t been picked recently. Some also try the Delta Lotto System, which uses a bit of math to reduce the number of digits you’ll pick from, though many note it doesn’t take probability into account.

If you subscribe to the “hot” or “cold” method, you may want to seek out a ticket from New York, which sold more jackpot-winning tickets than any other state in 2023. If you’re looking for a “cold” state, you may want to look at the 18 states that haven’t had any big winners at all: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

But, as Chen and other mathematics experts have said, there are no numbers, combinations, or methods to give you a better chance at the Mega Millions jackpot. You can, however, increase your chances by simply buying more tickets. Buying 100 tickets would cut your odds from 1 in 302.6 million to roughly 1 in 3.026 million.

If you want to purchase nearly every possible number combination, that would set you back about $600 million. The jackpot, however, has a cash value of only $314.4 million, so you’d really be spending all of your winnings — and then some — before you get them.

“A perfectly ‘rational’ person will not buy a lottery ticket, because the expected gain is always less than the price of the ticket — this is how the states make money from lottery,” Chen said in a press release. “But we are not rational.”

Regardless of your odds (which are the same as everyone else’s), it’s important to play responsibly. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Hotline.

The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for 11 p.m. ET Tuesday. You have a 1 in 24 chance at winning any prize in Mega Millions, which is played in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Tickets are $2 and there are a total of nine ways to win a prize.

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