The lottery is a suckers bet. Always has been. But the dream of winning the lottery and leaving behind the daily grind is hard to shake.
The MegaMillions jackpot is now over half a billion dollars. It's estimated at $540 million — $370 million if a sole winner takes the cash payout.
According to a Bloomberg ranking of state lotteries, more than $50 billion was spent on lottery tickets in 2010, and prizes totaled $32.8 billion. Illinois' average annual lottery spend per adult is $225. (In Massachussetts, it's a whopping $860 per year.)
Where does Illinois fall on Bloomberg's Suckers Index?
"The Sucker Score is calculated by subtracting the total dollar amount of prizes awarded from the total dollar amount of ticket sales. The difference is then divided by the total personal income of the state's residents," according to Bloomberg.
Illnois ranks 20th. The state with the biggest suckers score is Georgia. The full Suckers Index ranking list is on Bloomberg.com.
Which states gave ticket buyers the biggest bang for the buck?
Illinois ranks No. 22 (between Idaho and Michigan), taking in $2.1 billion in ticket sales and offering back $1.3 billion in prize money.
The top three are Massachussetts, Oregon and Tennessee. The bottom three are Oklahoma, North Dakota and Louisiana.
What Are the Odds?
From Aol's DailyFinance.com: State-run lotteries "have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling" in America, according to Bloomberg. When you play the lottery in Louisiana, you're going to average 51 cents in "winnings" for every dollar you pay to play. The best odds in the nation can be found in Massachusetts, but even up there you're looking at a 72 cents payback on each $1 lottery ticket. And the average payout is just 60 cents.
You have better odds of ...
- Getting pregnant from a one-night stand: 1 in 20
- Getting struck by lightning: 1 in 10,000
- Dying in an airplane crash: 1 in 355,318
- Being dealt a royal flush in a given hand of poker: 1 in 655,750
- Dying from a flesh-eating bacteria: 1 in 1 million.
- Winning the California Super Lotto Jackpot: 1 in 18 million.
From MegaMillions.com's FAQ page: Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesday and Friday at 10 p.m. Chicago time. Drawings are held at WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. You can buy tickets until 9:45 p.m. Chicago time.
Do you plunk down cold, hard cash in exchange for a lottery ticket dream? Take our MegaMillions poll. What would you do with your winnings? Share in the comments!