A Railroad History Site Ruins Your Lottery Dreams

Last month, both the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots hovered around $1 Billion, after having no winners in the several months beforehand. And like many of you, I bought a couple tickets. Why the hell not?

To win the Mega Millions jackpot, all you need to do is match 5 numbers out of 70, followed by 1 number out of 25. The odds of this can be calculated by the following formula: n! / (r! (n -- r)!) * n2 where n = the numbers in the set and, r = how many numbers you are choosing and n2 = the second set, in this case 25. 

That is as follows 70!/ (5!(70-5)!) * 25, which comes out to 1 in 302,575,350. 

Or 302,575,350 to 50!

Those are certainly low odds, but someone has to win, right? Buy enough tickets and eventually you'll hit it! 

Mega Millions is drawn twice a week and a single ticket is $2, meaning if you played each drawing once, you would spend $4 per week. Suppose you decided to buy every combination of numbers in the game, starting with 01, 02, 03, 04, 05 and 01. It would mean you would buy every combination 151,287,675 weeks from now.

Or, in other words, you would finish in the year 2,911,399, when it will currently be an open question as to whether humanity as a whole survives that long. And since every drawing resets the combinations, you would have the same number of odds of winning that jackpot as the first one you played. Even spending $400 a week on tickets (100 tickets each drawing), you wouldn't have purchased all the combinations until 31,114.

You are far better off saving that money for retirement, unless you plan on living for the next nearly 30,000 years to cash in on those sweet winnings. Opening an online micro-investing account, such as Acorns, could help you see a return on that money that exponentially increases with time, and personally, I think a lot more fun watching your account balance slowly increase, then pretend you're going to win the next big jackpot, only to have your dreams shattered in all but 1 in 302 million cases.

If you're wondering what the significance of this blog is in comparison to railroad and highway history, I am simply repeating an experiment and research done by the International House of ZZYZX two decades ago, who has a very nice but very dated site on the Interstate Highway System.

Thanks as always for reading!

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