Could $1.6 billion be yours?

Local News

NATIONAL (WCIA) — $1.6 billion is up for grabs in the Mega Millions jackpot Tuesday night, so to maximize your chances of striking it rich, we talked to an expert.

Earlier this year, Illinois Lottery data we obtained showed the hotspots where winning tickets are sold throughout Central Illinois. So could following up on what we learned then…help you win now?

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1-in-302,575,350. UI statistics professor Doug Simpson can put that number into context.

“It’s very comparable to, if you gave one number to each person in the United States and you chose one of them to win, that’s pretty much your odds,” he says.

Not great– but hold on.

In February, a records request of the Illinois Lottery showed a list of all the places in Central Illinois which sold winning tickets worth $5,000 or more in the last five years. Then we divided it by the total county-by-county ticket sales. It provided rough historical odds of picking winners in each county.

The best odds were in Edgar County: 1-in-51,000; in Champaign County: 1-in-148,000. Don’t even try Vermilion County: 1-in-220,000.

The actual odds of winning Tuesday’s Mega Millions are most likely different. But, Simpson does have a tip.

“The best thing would be to just use the random number generator that the lottery provides,” he says, “If you happen to win something, you’re less likely to share it because those numbers are less likely for people to latch onto. They’re just random numbers.”

It could be good advice. But just remember that the lottery should only be played for fun– because, no matter how you analyze it, the odds aren’t that great.

“People sometimes develop, ‘Ooh, I’m going to win, I got a feeling,’ but, it’s just not going to happen,” says Simpson.

To see what we calculated your county’s lottery odds to be, click here.

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