Winning a Lottery Jackpot: Odds and Ends

A look at the various processes involved in winning a lottery jackpot - and the odds of doing so.
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Pen in hand crossing out chosen numbers on a lottery ticket
  • Author:
    William Monroe
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In any type of gambling endeavour, the chances of winning even a very minor prize are always quite low for the player and always quite high for the organization or agency that is running the game. This is how gaming operators of legal gambling such as casinos, lotteries, bingos and so forth, make their money. They take in much more money from people than they pay back out.

For instance, Lotto 6/49's odds of winning the jackpot are around 1 in 14 million. Lotto Max is around 1 in 28.6 million. And slot machines top out at 1 in 17 million. Powerball is 1 in 292 million. Compare these odds to being hit by lightning. Within your lifetime, your odds are around 3,000 to one, but on the good side of that, being hit by lightning in any one year is only 700,000 to one.

You might think that these gambling odds are stacked against the player, and you would be right. However, as we see every day, people are winning these large jackpots, and their odds of winning are just the same as yours would be. They have no untoward advantage over you. Now, from the "lucky" side of things, they might have a better horseshoe in a better location, a more benevolent spirit watching over them, or just a rabbit's foot, four-leaf clover, and mini troll doll sitting next to the ticket.

But, luck aside, even though the odds are against you, people win and you could be one of those people. All you need is a ticket. Yes, just one ticket. If you don't have a ticket, you are guaranteed not to win. But even one ticket gives you a chance and places you in the same level of winning as every other person with a ticket.

Having a ticket does not guarantee a win. But having a ticket does give you a chance, and no matter what the odds are, you could be the next big winner.


The actual checking of your ticket and finding out you have won is not the end of the winning process by any means. You still need to secure your ticket so that only you can be identified as the legitimate lottery winner and ticket holder. Make sure you always keep your ticket and the sales receipt together, as proof of where and when the ticket was bought, as this might be something the verifying agent may ask.

The very first thing you should do if you discover you have won the lottery is sign your ticket, if required. Your signature marks you as the person who legitimately purchased the ticket and has legal claim to any prize payout. Next, get your ticket validated at a retailer if possible. This again sets out a paper trail for your claim and makes it easier and quicker for the agent to get you verified.

Always make multiple copies of your signed ticket. Make several copies of both the front and back of the ticket and keep these copies in a secure location. You should also scan multiple copies of both sides of the ticket into your computer as a digital backup. The more proof you have that the ticket is yours, the fewer issues you will have in getting it validated and paid out especially if anything should happen to the actual ticket itself.

And you need to keep your mouth shut! Do not tell anyone about your potential win. Keep it to yourself or your immediate family and swear them to secrecy. The fewer people who know what is going on is in your best interest until the money is deposited into your account. You don't want some "friendly" neighbour or relative trying to steal your ticket. It's yours! You have beaten the odds! Make sure your ticket and what it signifies stay yours.

This is the fourth and final article of an advice mini-series. You can read the previous three articles by clicking the links below:

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