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Lottery fever! Half-a-billion up for grabs in the US tonight


By Noel Young | Correspondent

March 30, 2012 | 3 min read

You don't need a lot of advertising or promotional work for this little crowd-puller! The biggest lottery of all time with a prize of more than half-a-billion dollars ($540 million to be exact) will be drawn in the US tonight. But your chances of winning the Mega Millions prize at a dollar a go, are not high - about one in 176 million.

Biggest jackpot of all : half-a-billion!

Statistician Mike Orkin, author of “What Are the Odds? Chances in Everyday Life,” puts it this way in the LA Times:

If you have one friend in Canada, and put the name of every person in Canada in a hat and pick one, you are five times as likely to pick your friend’s name as you are to win the jackpot with a single ticket. OR, if you bought 50 tickets each week, you’d win -- sometime before the year 70012.

You are 19 times as likely to be struck by lightning twice, 33 times as likely to be killed in the next year by bees, and 40 times as likely to be dealt five blackjacks in a row - as you are to win Mega Millions.

Despite all that, the largest lottery jackpot in world history is "drawing in even the skeptical and the frugal," said the Times.

“It’s so high — I mean, that’s astronomical,” said Charlie Blair, 70, a retired mechanical engineer. He had never played - until he heard about the record payout. Then he headed to a filling station near his Los Angeles apartment to buy a single ticket. As queues grew ,other first-timers kept harassed story owners busy explaining just how you filled in the ticket.

Massive pools were being organised in offices and churches. Players bought in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The largest one-play Euromillions jackpot, £161,653,000 (US$260 million) was won on 12 July 2011. Largest UK prize was £22,590,829 in June 1995. The largest jackpot was £42,008,610 on 6 January 1996 - split between three winning tickets.


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