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Despite varying number of lottery winners, experts say there are no lucky states

Lottery Jackpots
Posted at 3:31 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 15:31:30-05

Somebody has finally won the big Powerball jackpot. So far, we know the winning ticket was sold a store in Maryland. The single ticket is worth more than $731 million.

Maryland does allow its lottery winners to remain anonymous. The state itself has only had three Powerball winners ever, including the latest one.

It's not really considered a "lucky" state if you compare it to places like Indiana, where they've had 39 Powerball winners, or Missouri, where they've had 31.

So, is there such a thing as a lucky state? Experts in math and statistics say no.

“Every lottery ticket has the same odds, no matter where it's bought, no matter when it's bought,” said Dr. Lew Lefton, a Georgia Tech University faculty member who teaches math.

Lefton says it's expected to have clusters of winners, whether its broken down by state, zip code, or even gender.

It would be strange if the winners were evenly distributed by state.

“Random processes always have clusters and empty spaces. If you think about just throwing random points of paint on a canvas, some of them are going to be close together. Some of them are going to be far apart. That's just normal,” said Lefton.

Population density doesn't really have an effect on the chances of winning. Buying more tickets also doesn't really increase your chances of winning. It just increases the jackpot.

“The real odds are increased, but it's incrementally increased. It's so small that it's not substantial unless you start buying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tickets,” said Lefton.

Lefton says if you're going to play the lottery, you're better off buying just one ticket.

“Don't expect to win, but just enjoy the uncertainty of being wealthy for a moment and the possibility. That's enough entertainment for your $2,” said Lefton.

The jackpot for tomorrow night's Mega Millions drawing is up to nearly $1 billion.