UPDATE: Jackpot numbers updated March 30.

Robert S. Donovan/Flickr source

Another Mega Millions lottery ticket drawing came up empty Tuesday, which means the next drawing will likely pay out the highest jackpot ever – if someone actually wins. Since the previous drawing of $363 million, which was the third-largest in the history of the Mega Millions, remains untouched, the jackpot moves up to an astronomical $640 million. Which raises an interesting question: Could you guarantee a win by investing $175.711 million?

If you thought the $363 million jackpot created a lot of buzz this one will sting you in the rear. The odds of winning are 1 in 176 million and those odds won’t change — there are only so many numerical combinations possible to create a winning ticket. This makes you wonder whether there isn’t some way for a very rich person to take advantage.

If one were so inclined (and had the funds), he could theoretically spend $175 million to buy up tickets with every possible numerical combination and claim a prize of approximately $80 million profit if he takes a cash payout, depending on the state.

This conspiracy may actually concern some lotto players, especially since winning the lottery comes with its own set of troubles.

Tough decision

According to USAMega.com, a website that tracks the Mega Millions and Powerball, a lump sum cash payout for this upcoming jackpot is worth $346,500,000 after federal taxes.

In the eight states that do not take out taxes, including California and Pennsylvania, the winner would have to decide between that sum or $18.5 million a year for 26 years, equaling $480 million.

In New Jersey, which charges the highest state rate of 10.8% these numbers drop to $297 million lump sum or $411 million over 26 years.

Investing in a gamble, or gambling on an investment?

If you were to buy up every possible ticket number combination, I would strongly advise taking that business to one of the states that will not charge taxes. There, a $175 million investment would pay out approximately $171.5 million immediately, or a near-doubled 98 percent return on investment. Alternatively, you could make $305 million in 26 years, or a 174 percent ROI.

The only gamble here would be whether or not someone else wins, in which case you would have to split the prize but would still come out on top in your investment.

Stories abound where people have played the lottery, and won. Last summer we found an article that surfaced about how statisticians discovered a quirk in a Massachusetts state lotto where a $100,000 investment in tickets yielded a bounty in smaller prizes.

With the Mega Millions jackpot swelling to unprecedented numbers, is someone secretly plotting to beat the lottery?

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  • I believe that many states have made it difficult if not impossible for “investors” to purchase bulk tickets to play every combination.

    • Crockett

       its done, there will be a winner

  • Nathan1915

    It took me forever to just buy $20 in tickets on this one draw… It would be impossible to buy every possible combination, there just isn’t enough time.

  • WallStreetShark1

    Why does the author twice refer to a hypothetical investor as “he”… this is offensive!

  • Wartface

    If I win… I’m going to get 3 tax lawyers and take the cash payout. Have each lawyer give me a long term plan. I would probably claim the money as a family trust or with my kids. That way they don’t have to pay 55% in taxes when i die. Then decide a direction I want to go in terms of keeping the principle intact.

    While I’m consulting with the lawyers I will sell my house and shut down all of my phones and Internet service providers… So as to be as invisible as possible. I don’t want the wacko’s calling me and asking for a hand out. I’ll give a reasonable amount to deserving charities at my own time and place.

    I would plan to travel for a year to enjoy life and remain as invisible as possible. When all the news subsides I would buy a home in NY, Hawaii and one in London. That way you could always have privacy. You could always lay low and not have to answer stupid questions.

    • I like it. I would miss my family too much though, so I wouldn’t be nearly as private. But, with that kind of money I would get the best CPA and financial advisors after the tax lawyers.

      • Wartface

        Jason…

        Just buy the whole family a membership for those private charter Jet services that Can bring the kids and grandkid’s to wherever you are.

  • Could not happen. 

    A: No quick picks. You would need to write out $175,000,000 individual tickets.
    B: Just making the formula would take a while.
    C: You would need to go to 100’s if not 1000’s of stores to complete the transaction. 
    By then I will be on the beach on a private island enjoying my winning!

  • Navy Dmd Divinco

    It is amazing how dumb people are.  Assuming it takes 5 secs to pick a series of numbers and place them in the scanner to be generated on the ticket, creating all 176 million chances would take approximately………..28 yearrrrrrrs……