The catch with Lotto's mega jackpot


It's a big day if you're a Lotto player - the Powerball jackpot hits $40 million - the largest in New Zealand history.  

But even if you picked the right numbers, you might not get as rich as you're hoping.

That's because bigger jackpots mean more players, and therefore more potential winners to split the big $40m.

As if that wasn't bad enough, your chances of actually picking the right numbers are slim to begin with!

The good news is that the jackpot must be won, which means if nobody wins First Division, the $40m will be added to the next division with winners.

The odds of you winning Powerball are one in over 38 million.

In other words, you'd have to buy 38 million lines at $1.20 each to secure a win - a $46 million spend for a much smaller prize.

Lotto's expected rate of return is 55 percent, which Auckland University Statistics Professor Russell Millar says is "way lower than going to the casino".

Now if you're wondering about what numbers to pick - as random as it is - there are indeed "hot" and "cold" balls.

The catch with Lotto's mega jackpot

Among the 40 regular balls, numbers 1 and 13 are the hottest, while 29 is the coldest.

Among the 10 Powerballs, 2 is very hot, having made its way to the top 69 times. At the other end of the scale, the one that's appeared the least is Powerball 9.

The catch with Lotto's mega jackpot

Now that's not to say cold balls are overdue and you should be looking at picking them. Lotto balls are not sentient beings; they do not have memories!

So, knowing that your chances tonight are slim, what's the go-to strategy?

According to Prof Millar if you can't beat the numbers, try beating your fellow players - choose random numbers because they are more likely to be shared by fewer people. 

"Don't choose obvious combinations... don't choose those hot and cold numbers... You're probably just better off getting a lucky dip!" he says.

Now you might be wondering, what's the point? Where is my money actually going?

On average, every week Lotto players raise more than $3.5 million. For every dollar spent, 73 cents is returned to the community as prizes or community grants.

More than 3000 organisations and projects receive Lotteries Grants every year.

To date, players have raised more thanb $3.6 billion that's gone towards upgrading community centres, supporting Kiwis with disabilities, and funding Sport New Zealand, Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission.

But community groups are expecting big funding cuts due to a drop in Lotto sales.

The best advice is to play for fun. If you're planning to play for money, then you've probably already lost!