Ex-Lotto addict reveals staggering amount players could save if they invest ticket money instead

Lotto's $26m Powerball is up for grabs but players are more likely to win by saving.
Lotto's $26m Powerball is up for grabs but players are more likely to win by saving. Photo credit: Getty.

Lotto players have got to be in to win, but if all that money had been invested instead, they could now be up to $50,000 better off.

Lotto's $26m Powerball jackpot is up for grabs on Wednesday, offering a life-changing opportunity for one lucky winner.  But with the odds of a win at one in 38.3 million, it's a gamble that for most will never pay off.

A former Lotto devotee who documents her money-saving journey under the Instagram handle 'The Kiwi Saver', used to dream about what she'd do if she won all that cash. Now, aside from being part of a work syndicate for the "social element", she's lucky to buy a Lotto ticket once a year.

"When I worked out we were spending $1500 per year on Triple Dip tickets for each [Lotto] draw, I felt sick and went cold turkey," she explained.

Instead, she plans to "win" the equivalent of Lotto by saving and investing regularly to build a passive income stream.

"If you invested $10 per week since the start of Lotto [1 August 1987 - 33 years), with a 5 percent return (excludes adjustments for inflation and tax), you'd have over $40k by this point...that will grow exponentially thanks to compound interest."

Investing $12 per week - the equivalent of the cost of a Lotto Power Dip - at 5 percent compound weekly interest over the same period, would amount to $52,452.

Buying Lotto tickets is akin to "buying a dream". Players put in minimal outlay for the chance of a huge return.  Someone has to win, but it's easy to ignore how low the odds are.

"It's easier to think short-term than to work out the long-term benefits and sticking to that plan, but it's really worth considering where your money would be better off," she added.

Lotto spokesperson Marie Winfield said Lotto is designed to be fun but players should know their limits. It's based on a lot of people spending a small amount of money in the hope of winning big.

"We don't want our customers to spend more than they can afford and feel comfortable with, and never has this been a more important message," Winfield said.

Tickets start from $6, with each line having an equal chance of winning. The odds of winning Powerball are one in 38.3 million.

"[Since Lotto began], there have been 942 millionaires made...already this year there have been 27 overnight millionaires with Lotto, Powerball and Strike games. Seven of those winners scored big with Powerball."

In the last year, there were two large jackpots: $38m in October and $50m in February.

"For a $5m jackpot we'd typically sell around a million tickets...when the jackpot is high[er], more people play which can see a doubling in the number of tickets sold."

Lotto New Zealand's 33rd birthday is on Saturday and it's hoping to congratulate a new Powerball winner.  

"If Wednesday's $26m jackpot is won by a single ticket, the winner will be the sixth largest Powerball winner in Lotto NZ's history," Winfield added.

She said that 100 percent of Lotto profits are given to over 3000 causes, including StarJam, Heart Kids and Coastguard.