How to Improve Your Odds of Winning the Lottery


When you buy a lottery ticket, you know it is a long shot. But you also have a small sliver of hope that somehow, someday, you will win. That’s what makes lotteries so compelling, as well as so frustrating.

The word “lottery” derives from a Latin word meaning the drawing of lots. The concept dates to the earliest records of human society, with one ancient text reporting a king drawing lots to determine the distribution of property. It was later popular in Roman times as an entertainment during Saturnalian feasts, and by the 17th century had spread to England and America, where public and private lotteries helped finance a wide range of projects, including building many American colleges (including Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and Union).

Super-sized jackpots are a powerful driver of lottery sales, but they also create the impression that winning is more likely. So how can you improve your chances? The answer is math.

The fewer the numbers in a lottery, the better your odds of winning. Hence the popularity of games like Keno. The choice of which numbers to play can also have a big impact on your odds, so think carefully before you pick. And remember that if you do win, there will be taxes to pay, so it’s important to talk with a qualified accountant before you claim your prize. Whether you choose a lump-sum payout or a long-term payout, there are strategies that can reduce your tax burden.