Mega half a billion Friday is here

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Mega half a billion Friday is here

LOS ANGELES, CA – -Winning the lottery, a simple, cheap transaction that can effectively end your first life and grant you a second, has always been such a farfetched proposition that the very notion has become synonymous with a miracle. 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.

But then the jackpot for Friday’s Mega Millions draw vaulted past half a billion dollars, making it the largest lottery jackpot in world history and drawing in even the skeptical and the frugal.

Against the backdrop of a stubbornly sluggish economy, the lottery drawing has captivated many.

“It’s so high — I mean, that’s astronomical,” said Charlie Blair, 70, a retired mechanical engineer. Blair had never played the lottery until he heard about the record payout, and he headed to a gas station near his Koreatown apartment to buy a single ticket. He said he would keep quiet if he won — but that might be hard, considering everyone around him has lottery on the brain.

“My girlfriend, my ex-wife, my bookkeeper — it’s all they’re talking about,” he said. “My ex-wife said, ‘If you hit it, don’t forget me.'”

According to the California Lottery, the chances of winning Mega Millions is 1 in about 176 million.

Statistician Mike Orkin, the author of “What Are the Odds? Chances in Everyday Life,” puts it another way.

If you have one friend in Canada, 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. Facing these odds, if you bought 50 tickets each week, you’d win — sometime before the year 70012.

Source: Los Angeles Times
Image: Los Angeles Times
March 29, 2012
11:33p.m. P.D.T.

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