Mega Millions Mega Primer of the Day

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Your chances of winning tonight's historic $640 million Mega Millions jackpot are mega slim (1 in 175,711,536). 

In fact, you have a better chance of making a hole in one while being stunglectrocuted to death by a pair of conjoined sharks with bee stingers for teeth and lightning bolts for fins.

Still, you're probably going to play because the odds of seeing another $640 million jackpot in your lifetime are just as small. Also, according to Twitter, most of you really like winning money.

The lottery, unlike many other forms of gambling, cannot be gamed -- hence its reputation as a "tax on the mathematically inept." Even people like Richard Lustig, author of Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning The Lottery, are forced to acknowledge that the only real "strategy" is to buy more tickets.

But how many tickets? All of them? The Washington Post crunched the numbers and found out that trying to ensure a win by purchasing enough tickets to beat the odds (176 million dollars worth) would take 28 years, and that's if you don't run out of ink and paper long before that.

Another problem that arises is that more than one person can possess a winning ticket. If just one other person got lucky, you'd end up with a net loss of $30 million.

In other words, don't spend $176 million on lottery tickets.

Let's say you won. You're not going to, but let's say you did. Don't make plans for those $640 million just yet. In actuality, if you opt to carry your cash out of Lottery Headquarters in big bags with dollar signs on them like a cartoon, you'll end up with about half the original amount after tax.

USA Mega has a state-by-state breakdown of how much you can expect to take home after you win. Which you won't.

Come to your senses and decided not to waste your money on a blindfolded-shot-in-the-dark? Here's something that might make you feel good about sitting this drawing out: If no one wins tonight, the next jackpot starts at just under a billion dollars.

And that one's a sure thing.


Above: Thousands wait in line to purchase a lottery ticket outside the Primm Valley Casino Resorts Lotto store on the California/Nevada border.

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