mega millions odds vs powerball odds

Mega Millions vs Powerball Odds

We all know that winning the lottery is mostly a game of luck, right? So how do you become a better player? Well, by choosing the games with better odds. You can try other fancy strategies with varying degrees of success, but ultimately, any lottery is a game of statistics.

In this quick comparison between two of our favorite lotteries, we’ll look at the odds of winning Mega Millions vs Powerball. Is one better than the other? How do the prizes compare? And what are your chances of winning?

Read on to find out.

Mega Millions vs Powerball Odds

Mega Millions and Powerball feature a similar game structure. For both games, every drawing includes five main balls drawn from one pool of numbers, and an additional ball drawn from another pool of numbers.

For Mega Millions, the first five balls are drawn from a pool of 70 balls, and the extra ball (called the Mega Ball) is drawn from a pool of 25. For Powerball, the first five balls are drawn from a pool of 69, while the extra Powerball is drawn from one of 24.

These slight differences in the pool sizes are what gives the two games different odds of winning.

Below is a quick overview of how the two games compare in terms of prize payouts and their respective odds.

Mega Millions
(overall odds 1 in 24)
(overall odds 1 in 25)
Match Prize Odds Prize Odds
5 + 1 Jackpot 1 in 302,575,350 Jackpot 1 in 292,201,338
5 $1 million 1 in 12,607,306 $1 million 1 in 11,688,054
4 + 1 $10,000 1 in 931,001 $50,000 1 in 913,129
4 $500 1 in 38,792 $100 1 in 36,525
3 + 1 $200 1 in 14,547 $100 1 in 14,494
3 $10 1 in 606 $7 1 in 580
2 + 1 $10 1 in 693 $7 1 in 701
1 + 1 $4 1 in 89 $4 1 in 92
0 + 1 $2 1 in 37 $4 1 in 38

Figures in the chart are rounded to the nearest one, and are based on a single $2 bet.

When you look at the top three prize tiers, playing Powerball’s odds appear far more attractive. Powerball’s third level (4+1) prize is 5 times that of Mega Millions’, and even has better odds of winning.

As you go down the prize tiers, however, playing Mega Millions starts to look like the better game. The statistics show that overall, you’ll have more Mega Millions wins than Powerball – though realistically, not by much.

We’ve done the math on two separate posts for both Mega Millions and Powerball odds.

Powerball vs Mega Millions – Which one should you play?

As far as US lotteries go, things don’t get any bigger than Mega Millions or Powerball. They’re two of the most popular games you can play, and it’s not hard to see why – especially since the jackpot is a guaranteed $40 million. Most of the time, it goes much higher! They also cost the same at $2 per play.

So now, you might be wondering: if you had to choose which one to play, which would it be?

Well, the odds show that Mega Millions vs Powerball are equally lucrative. They each have pros and cons. On one hand, you’ll have better odds when it comes to the top prizes with Powerball. But when it comes to the more statistically-attainable prizes, Mega Millions has the slight edge.

Overall, we’d say pick the one that’s more convenient for you to play. And if it’s possible, why not just play both of them anyway? Check out some of our highly-recommended lottery sites for more information.

Get a quick overview of how these two giant lotteries compare in terms of your chances of winning the jackpot.

What Are the Odds of Winning the Lottery?

How to Improve Your Luck

Tanya Constantine / Getty Images

More than a third of Americans believe winning the lottery is the only way they will ever retire comfortably. But the odds of winning either the Powerball or Mega Millions are roughly 1 in 292.2 million and 1 in 302.5 million, respectively.    

Compare these odds to some other unlikely scenarios and consider whether there might be a more foolproof way to cement your financial future. Strategies that are more likely to win you a bountiful retirement don’t depend on blind luck—just discipline.

Things That Are More Likely Than Winning the Lottery

Just how likely is it that you’ll hit it big in the lottery? Well, the odds are much worse than the probability of your death as a result of one of these:

  • Plane crash: 11 million to one  
  • Car accident: 106 to one  
  • Falling out of bed: 2 million to one  
  • Flesh-eating bacteria: 1 million to one  
  • Lightning strike: 1.2 million to one  
  • Dog mauling: 118,776 to one  
  • Snakebite: 50 million to one  
  • Shark attack: 3.75 million to one  

Turns out swimming with the sharks is safer than petting a dog, driving your car, or sleeping in your bed.

If these statistics have you feeling a little paranoid, cheer up. Many good things are also more likely to happen than winning the lottery. For example, the odds of getting a royal flush in the first hand of poker are just 649,739 to one.  

To put it all into perspective, consider this. Scientists calculated in 2004 that there was a 60-to-one chance that asteroid 2004 MN4 would strike the Earth on April 13, 2029. The asteroid is about a quarter-mile wide—larger than the asteroid that carved out Meteor Crater in Arizona.   And it was still more likely to hit the planet than you were to hit the jackpot.

Fortunately for Earth-dwellers, scientists revised their predictions for the asteroid; it’s no longer predicted to hit Earth at all, just skim very close.   Your chances of winning the lottery are equally as slim.

How to Improve Your Odds of Winning

If you’ve read all these statistics, and still want to play the lottery, here are some ways to improve your chances. First, use the computer-generated numbers because they tend to be the luckiest, and there is less chance of someone else picking a duplicate number. Whatever you do, don’t pick “lucky” seven, 11, or a birthday; you can be sure that someone else will have also picked those numbers.

Also, be sure to play the $1 million or $2 million second prize in the Powerball, where you only have to match five of the six numbers. Those odds are one out of 11.6 million.   You get even better odds if you just play in the state lotteries instead of the national one.

How to Improve Your Chances of Attaining Retirement

If you are one of those who consider the lottery their best chance of retiring, consider this comparison instead: Let’s say you buy a $2 lottery ticket every week for 20 years. There is little likelihood, based on the odds, that you would have won.

If you instead invested that $2 a week in securities and got a 5% return, you would have accumulated $3,528. It may not sound like much, but if you invested $2 a day instead, you would wind up with $24,663 after 20 years. The average stock market return is 10% a year; if you got that rate of return over 20 years, then your $2 a day would become $43,721.   That may not be enough to retire on, but if you increased it to $5 a day, you’d wind up with $109,283. $10 a day would get you $218,553. Now you’re talking.

The point is that you do have better odds for a successful retirement if you plan for it than by playing the lottery. You don’t have to depend on fate, chance, or luck. You can take matters into your own hands, starting today.

What are your odds of winning the lottery? Less likely than being hit by lighting, but more likely than getting killed by a shark. ]]>