I am best known for using my mathematical genius to decode ancient riddles and to program my own spy satellites, but occasionally I like to use my laser-sharp numbers acumen for the greater good. Here’s a little freebie:
Your chances of winning the MegaBucks is, statistically speaking, almost exactly the same whether you buy a ticket or not. The actual trip to the gas station or liquor store merely costs you needless gas and ticket money.
Some people disagree, and say things like “you can’t win if you don’t play.” But if this CNN story is to be believed (and trust me, it is) you often can’t win even if you do play.
Take the story of business professor Scott Hoover, who last summer bought a $5 scratch ticket that boasted a top prize of $75,000. He later learned that the top prize had been awarded before he ever bought the ticket — thus reducing his odds of taking home the big money to zero.
Here’s where it gets really good — this is common practice in the multibillion dollar lottery industry:
Virginia isn’t the only state to sell tickets that have no top prizes available. USA Today estimates that about half of the 42 states that have lotteries were, as of early July, continuing to sell tickets after the top prizes are claimed. Lottery officials from some states say the practice is fair because lesser prizes are still available, and they say tickets and lottery Web sites make that clear.
If you think that even one of the thousands of sad-sacks waiting in convenience store lines for their one chance at untold riches is aware that many of the tickets on sale offer a 0% chance of winning the top prize, send $5 to the Pax Arcana Ultra SuperBUX PRIZE Sweepstakes Giveaway Blowout for your chance to win a great big slap in the face.