The good news is that if you buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket for Friday’s jackpot, you can win $540 million, the largest jackpot in world history.
The bad news is that buying a ticket is far more likely to land you among the ranks of nation’s biggest “suckers,” according to Bloomberg’s sucker rankings. Among the states that have lotteries, California has the fourth worst rate of return. In 2010, only 51 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales were returned as winnings. The rest is used to fund state programs in departments such as education.
That's not stopping locals from lining up for their shot at being 1 in 175,711,536. A 7-Eleven clerk on PCH in Seal Beach sold more than 3,000 tickets in a single evening shift Thursday night (Full disclousre: this reporter bought five. If there are no stories posted on this site Saturday, you'll know why). The store has plans for extra staffing and crowd control measures in place for the last minute rush sure to come Friday afternoon.
According to the California Lottery, a cash payout for a single jackpot winner today would be $389.8 million. If a winner chooses the annual payment option, it would be $20.7 million a year for 26 years -- before taxes. There have been 18 Mega Millions draws without a jackpot winner, leading to Friday's record-breaking prize.
The low rate of return does little to dampen Californians' enthusiasm for the lottery. According to Bloomberg’s analyses, California adults spend an average of $109 per year playing the lottery. That is much lower than Massachusetts residents who spend an average of $861 per adult – more than any other state in the nation.
You are far more likely to die from a Flesh-eating bacteria (1 in 1 million) than you are to win Friday’s jackpot. But if you are feeling lucky, try heading over to the at 4320 Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos. It’s the only store in Los Alamitos, Rossmoor or Seal Beach to ever sell two jackpot—winning tickets, according to the California Lottery. The retailer who sells the winning ticket will receive a bonus of $1 million.
Good luck, Suckers!
-City News Contributed to this report.