The probability and odds can be taken into a mathematical perspective: The probability of winning the jackpot (through October 27, 2017) was 1:(75C5) x (15); that is: 75 ways for the first white ball times 74 ways for the second times 73 for the third times 72 for the fourth times 71 for the last white ball divided by 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, or 5!, and this number is then multiplied by 15 (15 possible numbers for the "Megaball"). Therefore, (75 x 74 x 73 x 72 x 71)/ (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1) x 15 = 258,890,850, which means any combination of five white balls plus the Megaball has a 1:258,890,850 chance of winning the jackpot. Similarly, the odds for second prize are 1:(75C5) x (15/14) = 1: 18,492,204 chance of winning. The overall probability of winning any prize was 1 in 14.7. If there are no jackpot winners for a specific drawing, the jackpot will keep increasing, however, the odds will still remain the same.
A Powerball jackpot winner may choose to receive their prize in 30 payments over 29 years or a lump-sum payment. The cash value option, in general, is the amount of money required to be in the jackpot prize pool, on the day of the drawing, to fund the estimated jackpot annuity prize. The advertised jackpot annuity and cash value are estimates until ticket sales are final, and for the annuity, until the Multi-State Lottery Association takes bids on the purchase of securities.
Reflecting common practice among American lotteries, the jackpot is advertised as a nominal value of annual installments. A cash value option (the usual choice), when chosen by a jackpot winner, pays the approximate present value of the installments. Mega Millions' previous format began on October 19, 2013; its first drawing was three days later. The current version of Mega Millions uses a 5/70 (for the white balls) plus 1/25 (for the "Mega Ball") double matrix to select its winning numbers.
The minimum jackpot prize is a $15 million annuity disbursed in 30 payments over 29 years which is something many people would elect to do.The 30 annuity payments are not equal but based on an increasing rate schedule. For example, the first annual gross annuity payment on the base $15 million jackpot would be approximately $267,000 while the final payment would be approximately $834,000.
Another study looked at winners. In 2015, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services analyzed data from the Bureau of Alcohol and Beverage and Lottery Operations on individuals who won money in the state lottery. Some 4,865 winning tickets of $1,000 or more were cashed in by 3,685 individuals receiving state benefits over the previous five years, reaching $22 million in lottery jackpots of various sizes. So — unless they were an unusually lucky group of people — they likely spent far more than any other group on tickets.
The winner, who has not yet claimed the prize, has 365 days from the draw date to turn in the ticket at one of nine California Lottery District Office locations. The lucky person has two options for payment: A payment plan for about $543 million (before federal taxes) paid out over 29 years or a lump cash sum of $320.5 million (before federal taxes).
The acceptance of gambling in the colonies was fairly short-lived by English investors because it was seen as a sign of laziness and as a vice. The investors saw gambling as a root cause of the colonies’ inability to sustain themselves. Lotteries were used not only as a form of entertainment but as a source of revenue to help fund the colonies. The financiers of Jamestown, Virginia, for instance, funded lotteries to raise money to support their colony. These USA lotteries were quite sophisticated for the time period and even included instant winners. Not long after, each of the 13 original colonies established a lottery system to raise revenue. In early American history, legislators commonly authorized lotteries to fund schools, roads, bridges, and other public works. Evangelical reformers in the 1830s began denouncing lotteries on moral grounds and petitioned legislatures and constitutional conventions to ban them. Recurring lottery scandals and a general backlash against legislative corruption following the Panic of 1837 also contributed to anti-lottery sentiments. From 1844 to 1859 alone, 10 new state constitutions contained lottery bans. By 1890, lotteries were prohibited in every state except Delaware and Louisiana.
Every jurisdiction has its own law on winners remaining anonymous. Some jurisdictions are required by law to provide the winner's name, city of residence, game won and prize amount to any third party that requests the information. Other jurisdictions allow winners to create trusts to shield their names from the public, or otherwise claim prizes anonymously. Check with your lottery to see if taking a photo of the winner is required and what its rules are on prize claims. Even if you keep your identity secret from the media and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery so officials can confirm you are eligible to play and win, as well as other legal requirements.
On Oct 4, 2015, the Powerball format changed again; the white-ball pool increased from 59 to 69 while the Powerball pool decreased from 35 to 26. While this improved the chance of winning any prize to 1 in 24, it also lengthened the jackpot odds to 1 in 292,201,338. The 4+1 prize became $50,000; the 10x PowerPlay became available in drawings with a jackpot of under $150 million. Three months later, the format produced a $1.5 billion jackpot, double the previous record, after 20 consecutive rollovers.
*a tip to know whether the website you are looking at actually buys lottery tickets online or follows the insurance model is to check the wording that they use. If you see the words “Play” then you can be confident it is a company that has agents and buys your tickets physically, if you see the words “Bet” you can be sure it is following the insurance model and you are placing a bet on the outcome of a lottery.