What are the odds? Mega Millions hits $355 M - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What are the odds? Mega Millions hits $355 M

Burlington, Vermont - January 4, 2011

Lotto fever has hit Vermont.

"Today is my 21st birthday and I just bought my first lottery ticket ever," said Ajla Asakovick, a customer at Waggy's store in Burlington.

"We probably won't win but what the hell, we'll donate $20 to the fund," said Patrick McCaffrey, who owns Waggy's.

The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $355 million and many people are hoping to win big.

"I normally play once a week but it's normally one to five dollars worth, but this one kind of got me going," customer Peter Beers said.

"I was selling a bunch of them and they were at $330 million and now within the last two hours it's jumped to $355 million. So $25 million in a couple hours-- just goes to show how many people are playing," said Melissa Short of Waggy's.

But what exactly are the odds of winning?

"One hundred and seventy-five million to one," said James Michael Wilson, a math professor at UVM.

We talked to Wilson to get a lesson in lottery odds.

Reporter Gina Bullard: So basically you have a better chance of dying on the way to buy your lotto ticket than winning the lotto?

Wilson: Absolutely, you have a much better chance of dying than winning-- yes!

Professor Wilson also showed us how to increase your odds-- but it will cost you.

"Four years of buying one lottery ticket every second to have about a 50 percent chance of winning-- assuming you have $121 million to burn," Wilson said. "You would be much better to take the money you were going to spend on lotto tickets and buy some math books."

But someone has to win, right?

"Sure you might win, but the odds are you're going to lose," Wilson said.

Players are willing to take that chance.

"Tons of tickets this morning," Short said.

"For the dream, you know? They do that in the advertisements-- just imagine. And it's fun to think about what you're going to do with $355 million," Beers said.

Folks hoping lady luck is on their side.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

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