How To Win Anything

Aug 15, 14 How To Win Anything

July 9, 2013 – No, not how to win any game – I mean how to win any prize at all on draw games.

If you’re looking for a surefire way to hit the jackpot, good luck.  Lottery officials across the country say that your odds of winning on any ticket never change – your only shot at better odds is buying more tickets.

So the first tip for winning any prize on a draw game is this: pool your money.

Everyone loves to say “I won”, but to better your odds, get used to saying “we won”.  Without the power of the office pool, lottery players would need to shell out serious cash to guarantee any of it coming back.

By pooling funds from friends, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone else who’s willing to take a risk with you, you can guarantee yourself the lowest prize possible – sounds glamorous doesn’t it?

businessman on phone

Hey, Frank? Yeah, I need to get out of here, let’s start a lottery pool.

No, of course it doesn’t- a few dollars is really hard to split up between ten friends.  But you’re not after just the smallest prize anyway.

The most popular draw games, Mega Millions and Powerball, offer players nine ways to win, starting with just one matched number.  In both games, that number is the final ball drawn – the PowerBall or the Mega Ball.

If your group throws in enough dough to buy one ticket for each of these special balls, you’ll definitely be able to say “we won!”  (The amount of sarcasm behind the exclamation point is still up to chance.)

To cover the cost of one ticket for each PowerBall, you’ll need $70.  Mega Millions is a bit more affordable, it only costs $15 to cover all 15 possible Mega Ball numbers..

With Powerball, a ticket matching just the PowerBall or one white ball and the Powerball will win you $4 – double the price of the ticket. (“We doubled our money! …sort of”)

In Mega Millions, matching the Mega Ball alone brings home $1, and one white ball and the Mega Ball will get you $2.

So far, not too exciting, but that’s the reality you and your office pool must face – it could take years before you break even or win more.  Then again, it could be tomorrow.

Powerball play slip

Consider playing the same white ball numbers on every ticket. That way, if you match a number on one, you’ve matched it on all 35, or all 15 for Mega Millions. Just be ready to fill out a lot of these.

Now that you’ve got one ticket for each of the final balls drawn, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to play the other five numbers, the white balls.

Both games allow you to choose a Quick Pick option, or you can choose your numbers yourself.

Powerball’s website says that about 70 to 80 percent of their winners have the computer pick numbers for them, but some players maintain they’ll get the numbers before a computer spits them out for them.

Still not sure?  Read this post to hear our take on the ages-old question: Quick Pick or “lucky” numbers.


As we discovered above, you can win on at least one ticket by matching one white ball and the Power or Mega Balls, and matching more than one white ball will increase the amount you win.

If you do choose to play the same white ball numbers combination, you and your group can win prizes on more than one ticket by matching at least three white balls without matching the special sixth ball – this goes for either game.

If you have 35 tickets for Powerball, and you match three white balls on every ticket, you’ll win $7 for each ticket that didn’t match the Powerball, and $100 on the ticket that did – remember, you’ve covered every possible Powerball.  That’s a total of $338, which you can claim at any Lottery retailer.

For Mega Millions, matching three white balls alone also pays $5 per ticket, and the one that matches the Mega Ball will bring in $50.  That gives you a total of $120 – also a prize you can claim at a retail location.

Now things are looking up, right?  Remember, there’s no guarantee any of the first five numbers you choose will match those drawn. (but these smaller payout totals might make chipping in seem like a better idea to your friends!)

And if you do better, you wonder?  Matching four white balls alone in either game will be sending you to the Lottery’s claims office for sure.

Powerball pays $100 for a ticket that matches four white balls but not the PowerBall, and for that ticket that does match the Powerball, you’ll win $10,000.  All told, that’s $13,400!

With Mega Millions, it’s much the same.  Matching four white balls without the Mega Ball wins $500, and with 14 tickets matching only four white balls you’ll have $7,000.

Four white balls and the Mega Ball wins you $5,000, bringing your total up to $12,000.

Of course, the odds get ever-slimmer as you climb up the ladder of white-ball matching.  In Mega Millions, you’ve got a little over 50,000 to 1 odds against you matching four white balls, and Powerball is just over 19,000 to one against.

But you’ve come this far, so why not dream of matching all five white balls on every ticket?

According to customer service representatives from several lotteries, it is possible to collect a jackpot and the accompanying second-tier prizes for matching all five white balls on every ticket.

To make such an unprecedented claim, one person from your pool would have to claim the jackpot, and you’d need to trust them to pay it out fairly.

$1 million in dollar bills

$1 million in dollar bills… you’d probably need a few dump trucks to carry all your winnings to the bank! Image: Flickr/Creative Commons

(Setting up rules for your lottery pool in the beginning can make a big difference once you win.  Read my post “Keeping Your Share,” to learn how to protect yourself in lottery pools.”)

The rest of the prizes – 34 prizes worth $1 million with Powerball and 14 $1 million prizes with Mega Millions – would need to be claimed by different individuals – each check must be written out to a different person.

(Note: this also means a different person has to sign the back of each ticket)

Given the jackpot amounts for this week, matching all five white balls on all 15 of your Mega Millions tickets – including the jackpot win – would net you and your group an incredible $158 million – the estimated $144 million jackpot plus the $1 million second prize, fourteen times over.

The Powerball jackpot sits at an estimated $50 million for Saturday’s drawing.  Tack on another 34 second-prize wins of $1 million each, and you and 34 of your most trusted friends can have a giant-check party worth an estimated $84 million.

Sure, the odds are against you – the lottery representatives I spoke with even laughed at the idea of winning big on 35 Powerball tickets in one drawing.

But, at the very least, a little strategy can give you the opportunity to say “we won!” four days out of the week, no matter how sarcastic your excitement may be.

Good Luck!



Editor’s Note:  As always, LotteryHUB News encourages our readers to consult their state lotteries for the most complete information.  This article expands on a suggestion on the Powerball FAQ webpage (which is surprisingly entertaining), and is hypothetical until a very, very lucky office pool proves it correct or woefully incorrect.  




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Written by Matt Isaacs

Matt is the Editorial Manager for the LotteryHUB News Team. Matt graduated from Rutgers University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies in May 2013



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