With the multistate Mega Millions jackpot set to reach a world-record $540 million Friday, lottery players across the country are wondering if there’s a way to guarantee becoming an overnight multimillionaire.
The jackpot is so large, someone with enough money could theoretically buy up every possible number combination, thereby guaranteeing a winning ticket – but only if you suspended the laws of physics.
A $540 million jackpot, if taken as a $390 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $293 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $117 million – less if your state also withholds taxes.
But there are too many limitations. First, if it takes five seconds to fill out each card, you’d need almost 28 years just to mark the bubbles on the game tickets. You’d also use up the national supply of special lottery paper and lottery-machine printing ink well before all your tickets could be printed out.
With a jackpot this large, experts say, there also is a greater chance of multiple winners. If you have to share the jackpot with even one other winner, you’ve lost $30 million.