I normally don’t consider myself a jealous person but that all goes out the window when we’re talking about stories concerning people who’ve won the lottery.
Back when I was in college, I won $50 on a $2 scratch-off and proceeded to eat and drink like a king—and by that I mean I bought two pizzas that would end up sustaining me for a week and consumed a 30 and a plastic handle of vodka in what was retroactively a problematic amount of time.
I’ve since come to terms with the fact that that’s probably going to be the pinnacle of my gambling career, and while I always pick up a couple of Powerball tickets when the jackpot joins the Tres Commas Club, I know there’s virtually no chance I’ll ever have the luck of the husband and wife who won millions within a few months of each other or the guy who won twice in five years.
However, there are plenty of people out there who subscribe to the “somebody’s gotta win” mentality, and if you count yourself among them, you might be interested in the question that brought you here.
Which States Have The Best Lottery Odds?
As you probably know, not all lotteries are created equal but they largely follow the same rule: the lower the chance of winning, the higher the reward.
The nation’s two most popular lottery games are the aforementioned Powerball and its younger cousin Mega Millions, which both offer astronomically high odds: you have a 1 in 292,201,338 chance of winning the former and a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of taking home the latter’s jackpot
If you’re looking to deny the existence of the gambler’s fallacy, you might like to know Pennsylvania and Indiana sport a disproportionate number of winners on a national scale when it comes to Powerball while Georgia and New York are the “luckiest” states for Mega Millions.
With that said, if you’re hoping to increase your chances of winning from “virtually impossible” to “laughably improbable,” then state lotteries are the way to go. However, not all of them are created equal and there’s no real way to point to one specific game that outshines the rest.
With that said, I’ll do my best.
All but six states have their own lottery system in place—you might be shocked to know Utah is one of them (and unironically shocked that Nevada is also part of the club)—and if NBC is to be believed, Massachusetts is far and away the best state to play the lottery based on how much it pays out compared to the amount of money it generates.
However, it’s worth noting that data may be a bit flawed—in 2012, students at MIT figured out a way to cheat the system to the tune of $8 million and another couple managed to rake in $27 million over a ten-year span. If you take Massachusetts out of the running, then Arkansas takes the top spot followed by South Carolina, Minnesota, and Georgia (if you’re curious, West Virginia is the worst place to play).
If we’re being honest with each other, at the end of the day, the real answer to the question posed here is “Who the hell cares?” based on how slim your chances of winning are regardless of where you play.
With that said, I wish you the best of luck because you’re sure as hell going to need it.