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Mega Millions: Odds of winning jackpot don't deter players

March 30, 2012 |  7:43 am

The harsh reality is that the odds of winning the $540 million Mega Millions jackpot Friday night are slim. Very slim.

By the numbers, you have a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of picking the winning numbers and scoring a record $540 million jackpot.

Put another way: If you buy 50 tickets a week, you will win the jackpot every 68,000 years.

PHOTOS: Mega Millions fever

All that according to California statistician Mike Orkin, the author of “What Are the Odds? Chance in Everyday Life.”

And yet, like so many other hopefuls, Orkin, says it's worth the $1 gamble.

“For a $1 bet, you can change your lifestyle if you win,” he said. “One dollar isn’t going to make you go bankrupt. Here you have this very, very small chance of completely changing your lifestyle, so why not spend a dollar on it?”

So hopeful men and women have flocked to their local liquor store since Tuesday for a shot, however slim, at a new life.

At Midway Liquor Market on Pico Boulevard, owner David Michael said Thursday, “Everybody's excited and they think they're going to get it."

Charlie Blair, for example, began playing the lottery this week after he noticed the $500 million Mega Millions jackpot. That's when the 70-year-old man headed to a Shell gas station on Vermont Avenue, close to his Koreatown apartment, to buy a single ticket.

"It's so high--I mean, that's astronomical!" the retired mechanical engineer said Thursday. "You can't beat the investment: $1 for such a high return."

California Lottery officials said 283 million tickets have been sold in the state for Friday’s jackpot, which began accumulating in January.

Spokesman Elias Dominguez thinks that with all the number combinations being played, someone’s going to win.  And he has an idea on what to do with the money.

“You can almost buy the Dodgers with that, but not quite,” he said. “Maybe instead you buy the Reds.”


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Mega Millions fever will peak Friday with $540-million drawing

--Anna Gorman, Corina Knoll and Matt Stevens

Credit: Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Images