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football score predictions this weekend:The best strategies for winning the Mega Millions jackpot, according to a Harvard statistician

Expert's advice on playing Mega Millions
Harvard statistician's advice on playing Mega Millions 03:17

With the Mega Millions lottery prize reaching over a billion dollar heading into Tuesday's drawing, some Americans may be wondering what they can do to increase their chances of winning.  

To be sure, it all boils down to luck, but you can still try to increase your odds. Here are the best strategies for doing just that.

Mega Millions latest 

The Mega Millions latest jackpot has risen to an estimated $1.55 billion — the largest in the game's history.

How to increase your chances of winning? The unsurprising short answer is, buy as many tickets as you can within reason. That's according to Mark Glickman, a senior lecturer of statistics at Harvard University.

"The best you can really do is just play lots and lots of times and that's the only way you're going to be able to increase your probability," Glickman told CBS News. 

Feeling lucky? Here's what to do if you win the lottery 05:12

Odds of winning

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are approximately one in 302.5 million. With odds that slim, Glickman said it's best to focus on picking numbers that are completely random. That will help ensure you're not making the same picks as someone else — and that you won't have to split the prize money with anyone, should you win.

"You should just completely have patternless random numbers," he said. "No birthdays that have special meaning to you because other people are likely to make those same picks."

Has anyone won the Mega Millions?

No winning tickets were sold in Friday's Mega Millions drawing. Tuesday's drawing will most likely top the largest Mega Millions payout ever — which happened in October 2018 when a South Carolina resident won $1.5 billion.  

The jackpot from 2018 and today have grown bigger by design, College of the Holy Cross economics professor Victor Matheson said earlier this year. The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a not-for-profit that coordinates the Mega Millions, has transformed it into a national game, made it more difficult to win the jackpot and increased the price of each ticket from $1 to $2. 

As the Washington Post reported in 2018, the new rules gave participants more numbers to choose from, making it less likely they would guess the combination required to win the jackpot. Mega Millions is played in 45 states along with Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Four Americans have won a Mega Millions jackpot larger than $1 billion since the rule changes.

Higher ticket prices and lower odds of winning make the jackpot grow faster from week to week, Matheson said.

The eye-popping figures also induce more people to buy tickets, adding to the lottery pool. Americans are 15 times more likely to buy a ticket when the winnings inch toward $1 billion compared to when the prize winnings are just $20 million, he said. 

What day is the mega millions drawing?

The next drawing is set for Tuesday at 11 p.m. Eastern time. The jackpot winner, should there be one, will be able to choose from a series of annuity payments across 30 years or a one-time cash option of approximately $757.2 million.

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