Good Grief! 
There's no evidence Powerball or Mega Millions are rigged!

   


When the jackpots for the Powerball and the Mega Millions lotteries reach very large amounts, you will often see many people on social media platforms make statements claiming these lotteries are "fixed" or "rigged," etc.  You will also often see many comments indicating California or Florida are the only states that are winning, and because of this there is no point in playing at all.

For example, below is just a small, SMALL sample of some of these comments via Facebook, from a recent article an upcoming Powerball drawing:



 

I'm not kidding, there are hundreds of similar type of comments.  (I could spend all day making copies of them.)

Good grief! 

First of all, there is absolutely no evidence Powerball or Mega Millions is fixed or rigged.  None.  Zero. 

Secondly, you have the exact same chance of winning no matter where you purchase your ticket.


Now, if you choose not to play those two multi-state lotteries, that's fine. I don't play them myself. (Let me repeat that.  Despite this webpage, I do not play lotteries.  Lotteries are a tax on those who are bad at math.)

But if you are choosing not to play because you think California has an "edge" or the odds favor California (and not your state), or you think the system is rigged, etc., then you are choosing not to play for a very poor reason.

The state of California is going to produce a lot of winners because... are you ready... that state sells a lot of tickets! It's simply math! It's simply probability!

You can verify for yourself the number of tickets sold in each state at the lottoreport website.

For the 12/30 Powerball drawing, for example, California and Florida combined for more than 23% of all sales!  Nearly one fourth of all of the tickets purchased for that drawing (760 M jackpot) were from those two states!  That's a large percentage!   Other Powerball and Mega Millions drawings show similar percentages.  CA and FL and NY sell a lot of lottery tickets.  Of course you are going to get more winners from those states!

If I number 90 white marbles 1-90, and I number 10 black marble 91-100, and I put all them in a bag and randomly draw a marble from the bag, there is a much better chance I'm going to draw a white marble than a black marble.  It's simple probability.

And yet I have the same chance of drawing black Marble #91 as I do white Marble #45.  I have the same chance of drawing black Marble #99 as I do white Marble #12.  There is no marble that has a higher probability of being drawn as any other marble. 

When you purchase a lottery ticket, you have the same chance of winning as anyone else, no matter where you purchase your ticket.

And no, winners are not "always" from California or Florida.  Anyone who claims that is the case is simply wrong.  (Or exaggerating.)  Other states win large jackpots too!

Here's a very small list of some of the Powerball jackpots that were won with a ticket that was not purchased in CA or FL:

01/01/24... $842.4 million... (Michigan)
03/27/19... $768.4 million... (Wisconsin)
02/06/23... $754.6 million... (Washington)
01/20/21... $731.1 million... (Maryland)
10/27/18... $687.8 million... (Iowa, New York)
01/06/18... $559.7 million... (New Hampshire)
07/30/16... $487.0 million... (New Hampshire)
04/27/22... $473.1 million... (Arizona)
03/17/18... $456.7 million... (Pennsylvania)
05/07/16... $429.6 million... (New Jersey)
06/29/22... $366.7 million... (Vermont)
06/01/19... $344.6 million... (North Carolina)
05/19/18... $315.3 million... (New Jersey)

I could put together a similiar list for large Mega Millions jackpots.  For example, that lottery has seen billion dollar winners from South Carolina, Maine, Illinois, and Michigan.  It's seen hundred million dollar winners from Kansas, Maryland, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Idaho, etc.

Naturally, there are large, non-jackpot winners from other states too.  For example, for the Wednesday, December 27th drawing, a ticket worth $2 million was sold in Texas. For the Monday, December 25th drawing, tickers worth $2 million were sold in Colorado and Georgia.  For the Saturday, December 23rd drawing, a winning ticket worth $2 million was sold in New England. 
For the Wednesday December 20th drawing, $2 million dollar tickets were sold in Colorado, Kentucky, and Virginia.

I could go on and on and on.  So no, it's not "always" CA or FL or NY that wins the large jackpots or the minor prizes.   Stop exaggerating.

Now, if your claim is yes, those states sell a lot of tickets... but they still are winning more than they should, then demonstrate that.  Prove it.  Show us your evidence.  Show us your calculations.  And of course no one has done that.  I see assertions these two states win too often... but no actual demonstration it is true.

"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."   (Christopher Hitchens)

 


And no, there's no evidence the game is rigged.  None.  Zero.  The time to believe in something, anything at all, is after there is evidence and a valid justification to warrant that belief.  Not before.

These lotteries are held live.  The numbers are drawn randomly via ping pong balls.  Independent companies verify the integrity of the system.  If you think otherwise, if you think the game is not on the level, WHY do you believe this?  What is the reason for this belief you have?  What is the justification you have for such a belief?  Do you have any evidence at all to support your claim and your belief?  Why haven't you submitted this evidence to the proper authorities?

How can people believe in things without a valid justification?  I just don't understand it.  It makes no sense to me.

The truth is, lotteries are legitimate and regulated games of chance and there are indeed real winners. Lottery organizations are required to provide transparency in their operations, including how winners are selected and the distribution of prizes. Winners are often publicly announced, and their stories can be found in news reports and on official lottery websites.   While the odds of winning a lottery jackpot are typically very low, people do win significant prizes.

Of course, if you have actual evidence these, or other lotteries, are not on the level, that they are indeed fixed, please present this data and evidence so it can be peer-reviewed.  (And then dust off your shelf for your eventual Pulitzer Prize.)

Now, I will admit the odds of winning either lottery is very, very, very low.   Very low.  That doesn't make it a "scam."  In fact, both lotteries give you the courtesy of telling you exactly what your chances of winning are! 

The chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338.  Now, how unlikely is that? Let's put that into perspective.

They say the odds of you getting struck by lightning are better than winning Powerball. I think that's a very bad analogy. A person who works outdoors in Seattle, for example, has a better chance of being struck by lightning than someone working indoors in San Diego.  It's hard to visualize how likely that is.

Here's a better analogy, that everyone should be able to relate to.

Imagine driving from San Diego, California to Seattle, Washington. Once you've reached Seattle, now imagine driving all the way across the country to New York City. Once in New York City, imagine driving down the coast for another seven hours to Raleigh, North Carolina.

If you've ever driving across the country before, you know first hand how long of a drive this would be. In all, you've now driven approximately 4,573 miles and it probably took you about seven days to do so, assuming you drove 600 miles each day.

San Diego to Seattle = approximately 1,255 miles
Seattle to NYC = approximately 2,831 miles
NYC to Raleigh = approximately 487 miles

There are 5,280 feet in each mile, so this is approximately 24,145,440 feet.
There are twelve inches in each foot, so this is approximately 289,745,280 inches.

Now, imagine that somewhere along this entire 4,573 mile route, an INCH on the ground has been designated as the "winning inch." At any point during your trip, you can stop your vehicle, get out, look down, point to the ground and select any "inch" you want. If you select the winning inch, you win!

You have a better chance of doing this than winning the Powerball lottery!

Mega Millions? The odds of winning that lottery are even worse... it's 1 in 302.5 million.

Trust me, if the "winning inch" were limited to just the street or road you live on, you are most likely not going to win!