There are numerous lotteries available in Canada, some on a national level and others restricted to provinces. Some are at the best online casinos in Canada, and some are found elsewhere. From Lottery Canada to the British Columbia Lottery, players have opportunities to win millions of dollars by picking the same numbers as the automated machines. But do we have any lotteries on the level of the US Mega Millions? Definitely not.
Of the national options, Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 are the most lucrative on the surface, but the Daily Grand offers the chance to win $1,000 per day for life. All are enticing.
However, there is something about bigger numbers that pique the interests of even the most casual lotto customers. When prizes begin to rise into tens of millions, then hundreds of millions of dollars, and even over the $1 billion mark, people want to get in on the action.
That’s what happened in the United States over the past week. The US Mega Millions climbed quickly, from $667 million to $868 million. Then, it skyrocketed to more than $1.5 billion for the drawing that happened on the evening of October 23, 2018. And in the days leading up to that drawing, Canadians called relatives and friends in the United States with requests to buy tickets. Others literally crossed the border just to make the purchase. They could do this as all border states were US Mega Millions lottery ticket participants. There was $1.5 billion up for grabs!
South Carolina Sold the Ticket
With countless people waiting for the tickets, the winning numbers were announced on October 23 as 5-28-62-65-70 with a Mega Ball of 5.
One ticket had those numbers and belonged to someone who bought the ticket in South Carolina. That ticket was worth $1.537 billion, which can be claimed via annuity or taken with the cash option in the amount of $877.8 million. Either way, per South Carolina laws, the winner is not forced to reveal his or her identity and can remain anonymous.
More millionaires were made via the same drawing. As it turned out there were 36 tickets with all five numbers without the Mega. Each of those tickets were worth $1 million, with the exception of two of them. Those two played the 3x multiplier and won $3 million each.
The US Mega Millions jackpot now returns to the starting value of $40 million. But who cares about that pocket change, am I right?
Many Canadians Tried To Win The US Mega Millions
Media outlets across Canada interviewed Canadians who trekked across the border to buy tickets. CTV Vancouver found numerous people who crossed into Washington to pick up a ticket or two. Some even traveled to the United States for the first time in years, just to take a shot at the massive prize.
Canadians are welcome to buy a ticket in any of the participating states in America. But they cannot purchase tickets online from Canada. Mega Millions has no problem awarding a prize to someone who buys a ticket in the US and then takes the money back to Canada. That winner can sort out the details with the proper tax officials.
Are Your US Chances Better with Bigger Prizes?
No. Simple math dictates that the same number of odds exist for picking the US Mega Millions winning numbers, no matter how much money is in the jackpot. The chances are based on the number of combinations possible, as follows:
All five numbers plus mega = 1 in 302,575,350 (jackpot!)
Five numbers but no mega = 1 in 12,607,306 ($1 million!)
Four numbers plus mega = 1 in 931,001 ($10,000!)
Four numbers but no mega = 1 in 38,792 ($500)
Three numbers plus mega = 1 in 14,547 ($200)
Three numbers plus mega = 1 in 606 ($10)
Two numbers but no mega = 1 in 693 ($10)
One number plus mega = 1 in 89 ($4)
Mega only = 1 in 37 ($2, the cost of one ticket)
However, players need to also consider that there could be multiple winners. This reduces the amount of the winnings per ticket. And it goes without saying that the more players who buy tickets, the higher the chance that there will be multiple winners.
What About Expected Value?
Many gamblers calculate expected value when playing various games, but it is probably the most common in poker. Expected value is referred to as EV and is mostly used when facing an all-in decision. Players are always looking for +EV situations.
Simply put, EV combines probabilities with prize values. The probability of each potential outcome multiplied by the expected payout equals the expected value.
The probability of winning the jackpot, as previously mentioned is 1 in 302,575,350. This is because there are 70 numbers in the first batch and 25 as mega possibilities. A Mega Millions ticket costs $2. Business Insider did the rather complicated calculations and came up with the overall expected value for playing the US Mega Millions when the top prize is $1.6 million, and that EV is $3.53.
This means that when the lottery numbers are as high as they were this week, it is definitely +EV to purchase a ticket. However, the expectations of winning it all should be in line with the odds.
However, add in the entertainment value and the excitement of it all, the value can be very much worth playing the lottery.