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It had to take a whole lot of luck to win Tuesday night's big $355 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing against astronomical odds. Then, there's always the question of whether you should take the annuity or the much lower one-time payment? For the $355 million jackpot, the annuity would pay $13.6 million each year for the next 26 years, so you won't be able to spend all of your winnings at once.
The jackpot grew to such a huge sum because Friday night's drawing failed to produce a winner for the multi-state lottery's top prize, which was estimated to be $290 million.
By Tuesday, the jackpot had reached $355 million after 15 consecutive drawings that started Nov. Mega Millions jackpots begin with $12 million and roll over to the next drawing until there is a winner.
Other smaller monetary prizes can range from $2 to $250,000, depending on how many numbers are matched. The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million in March 2007, according to the Mega Millions website.
Although the odds of winning Mega Millions' top prize are about 1 in 176 million, that hasn't stopped people from dreaming big. Some Mega Millions players told ABC News they were picking numbers from birthdays to home addresses.
Mathematicians and lottery officials said that the odds of winning are always the same regardless of how many people play because they always draw from the same set of numbers. Five numbers are picked from a set of balls numbered 1 to 56 and one mega number is drawn from a set of balls numbered 1 to 46.
Letting the computer choose your numbers or quick picks does not necessarily increase your chances of winning. Statistically, it doesn't matter and playing the same number time after time doesn't help you win any faster. Experts also said it's a misconception that your chances are better if you live outside a big city. New York state leads the way with 23 Mega Millions winners and more than half of those winners came from New York City.
But some players such as seven-time lottery winner Richard Lustig have come up with their own winning method. If someone promises you a fool-proof method to win the national lottery, then brace yourself, because you're dealing with a fraudster. Sadly not even Mystic Meg can tell us the lottery numbers that are going to come up in any given week.
You could be forgiven for thinking that a lottery win is going to be life-changing stuff, no matter how many other people have the same numbers as you.
Just to be clear before we start, you cannot improve your odds of winning by selecting specific numbers.

Every time the machines pick a ball, there's exactly the same odds that they will pick each number - so there's no way to use the numbers you pick in order to increase your chances of a win. You need to opt for something with a big jackpot - ideally one that has rolled over at least once. The second way to inflate your share of the winnings is to choose unpopular numbers - so if you win, there's a lower chance that anyone else won too. It found that the number 7 was picked most often - as it's considered lucky - so should be avoided.
It also advised against choosing 1,2,3,4,5,6 - which is selected by thousands of people each week.
It also discovered that people tended to choose numbers from the middle of the game card, so you may have a more unusual number combination if you stick to the edge.
However, as soon as it published this research, the university changed the way people play, because those who were trying to pick unusual numbers then started following the advice - making those numbers more popular. Lady Luck is on your sidethis slot machine is loose!Lady Luck Casino Slot Machine Game for iOS puts a Las Vegas Casino right on your phone and in your pocket. Jackpot Slots Pro is a fun, fast paced slot machine game that will keep you playing for hours!
A New Jersey man has come forward as the third and final multi-millionaire to claim his bonanza from the $448 million Powerball jackpot drawing in August, lottery officials said. Opting for a cash ticket over the annuity option, Scarnici will reap nearly $62 million after federal and state taxes, Drucker said. Scarnici, a longtime lottery fan in his 70s, purchased his Powerball ticket at a Stop & Shop in South Brunswick, where he had been buying tickets for years.
Scarnici placed three wagers for the Powerball game on a single ticket, all of which were Quick Pick numbers generated by a computer. While Scarnici did not share what he planned to do with his newfound wealth, he divvied up a portion of his earnings equally between his two adult sons, Drucker said.
Drucker said Scarnici did not want to hold a news conference or speak publicly about his win. As to why he waited to come forward and claim his prize, Drucker said Scarnici's behavior wasn't out of the ordinary. Scarnici had actually come into New Jersey Lottery headquarters twice before he officially claimed his prize, Drucker said. This is the first time in 20 years that two winning jackpot tickets were sold in the same state, according to the New Jersey Lottery. The Stop & Shop earned a $30,000 commission for selling the winning ticket, some of which it planned to donate to local organizations, Drucker said.
If you picked numbers 15, 47, 4, 25, 8 and mega number 42, out of all the people who lined up in 41 states and the District of Columbia, you did it. Off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal taxes, and then another 6 or 7 percent for those who have state taxes, which vary by location.

You think, 'What am I going to do in my plane, where am I going to go, how big a house will I live in.' It's a level of fantasy we all engage in, somebody will win that, it could be you," said Emily Oster, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It's all one giant computer system, so it doesn't matter," said DeFrancisco of the Georgia Lottery.
With £278,365 each, it's an amazing windfall, but rather than buying the millionaire lifestyle, it would leave you with just enough cash for a one-bedroom flat in Muswell Hill. You could try to choose numbers that have been picked the most often before, in the hope that a flaw in the machine tends to pick some numbers out more than others, but that's simply not how it works. This was the conclusion drawn by Southampton University, which investigated how to win big back in 1998.
Bizarrely the number 13 is also a common choice - because while it is considered to be unlucky, it tends to be picked by people who are trying to choose numbers that other people won't go for.
Given the fact that so many people include birthdays when choosing the numbers, it suggested picking plenty of numbers over 31 if you want to be unique. One of the most striking examples of this effect was in the draw in November 1995 with 133 winners.
It won't improve your chances of winning, or guarantee you pick unpopular numbers, but it will remove all the bias to ensure it's truly a random selection. Neither the service provider nor the domain owner maintain any relationship with the advertisers. The last time the phenomenon took place was in December 1993, and the tickets were sold in Washington, D.C. If you play the lottery every week, and you have average luck, you'll win back about half the money you hand over - so it's worth picking and choosing the draws you play. At the time it said that popular combinations of numbers had about 50 people playing them for every draw - while unpopular ones had one person playing them every two draws. In case of trademark issues please contact the domain owner directly (contact information can be found in whois). He joins the group of Ocean County Vehicle Services Department employees dubbed Ocean's 16, who split the $149 million prize equally. Uses statistical analysis, pattern matching, commonly picked together numbers and linear regression to predict likely winning combinations.
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