The lottery jackpot is a big prize. But the odds of winning are a long shot. The odds of being struck by lightning, for example, are much lower. Yet every now and then, there’s a jackpot so massive that it turns even the most skeptical among us into hopeful believers.
But it’s not entirely random: The odds of a jackpot getting that high are largely the result of how a lottery game is set up. A lottery operator has to strike a balance between the odds of winning and how many tickets are sold. If the odds are too low, people won’t buy enough tickets. But if the odds are too high, people will be turned off by the prospect of such slim chances.
Some lotteries have changed their formulas in order to increase the odds of winning. For example, in 2017 the Powerball game added more numbers to its mix. This increased the odds from 1 in 24.9 million to 1 in 292.5 million.
In some states, winners can choose to receive the money in a lump sum or as an annuity. A lump sum payout comes with a smaller initial payment, while an annuity pays out yearly payments that grow each year. Most people who win the lottery decide to take the lump sum option.
If you’re lucky enough to win the lottery, there are a few things you should do before you cash in your ticket. For starters, make sure you protect the ticket and keep it secure. You’ll also want to talk with a tax accountant about how your state and federal taxes will be calculated. And finally, you should consider keeping your name out of the news and telling as few people as possible so that you don’t get scammed or overwhelmed with begging “friends.”