Image for article titled If You're Playing the Mega Millions Lottery, These Hacks Can Improve Your (Infinitesimal) Chances of Winning

The Mega Millions lottery has a big prize tonight. It is the third time in the game's 20-year history that it has reached a billion dollars. A single ticket with random numbers only has a 1 in 302 million chance of winning all the money. You are more likely to be struck by lightning.

There are a few things that can improve your chances of playing.

How to choose the right lottery numbers 

A lot of people use lucky numbers when playing the lottery. Has that number appeared in drawings before?

The Mega Millions lottery winner is chosen by randomly selecting five white balls with numbers on them out of a pool of 70 numbered balls. According to U.S.A Mega, the five numbers that came up the most in Mega Millions were 17 (drawn 48 times), 10 (47 times), 14 (47 times), 31 (47 times), and 4 and 7. The most common mega ball was 22.

The whole point of randomly selecting balls is to average out differences over time.

You could choose one of those numbers or another lucky one. Think again before you do. If other people choose the same numbers as you, you will have to share the prize with them, and they are more likely to choose a lucky number. You can get a slightly improved chance to take home the prize by choosing unusual numbers.

If everyone picks unusual numbers for this reason, those numbers will be more likely to be shared, so it will be better to choose a normal number.

States with the most lottery winners

The states are luckier. The Mega Million has been won by players in 26 states since it began. New York has been the luckiest, with 40 wins, followed by California and New Jersey. Being from one of these states might mean you have a better chance of winning.

It's wrong. The lucky people in those states were not because they had a higher chance of winning, but because they have more people playing. Where you buy the ticket doesn't affect your odds.

photo of mega millions play slips

Just buy more tickets

Buying more tickets is the best way to increase your chances of winning the lottery. If you have a 1 in 303 million chance of winning, you can double your odds by buying a second ticket.

Your chances of taking home a billion dollars are still very small. Even if you spend a million dollars on tickets, you are still most likely to lose.

Pick your lucky number, pick an uncommon number, pick your birth date. You can buy one or twenty tickets. It doesn't mean anything.