The World Famous: Huh. I keep winning the $40,000,000 within a year every time. I must just be better than y'all.
Let's start with the simplest case. Imagine that you are the only person buying a Mega Millions ticket. A ticket costs $1, and the probability of winning the jackpot is 1 in 175,711,536. Therefore, if the jackpot is expected to yield exactly $175,711,536, then your $1 ticket has an expected value of $1 -- it's an even-money proposition, albeit one with very high variance. To simplify the calculations, assume for now that the jackpot is the only prize; we'll consider the relatively small effect of the smaller prizes in a moment. I'm also assuming there are no intangible benefits to playing, such as the thrill you get from watching the draw.
For certain guys, winning the lottery can be just about the worst thing to ever happened. You might as well hand them a grenade. Plenty of winners have blown their dough in a post-payoff delirium, but noone has done it quite like Big Jack.
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