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Don't Be a Lottery Sucker

With Mega Millions at $540 million, it doesn't mean you'll get rich.

With tonight's Mega Millions jackpot now at a record $540 million, Pennsylvania Lottery desks and kiosks across the region are doing brisk business. Office lottery pools are swelling with member contributions. Did you buy a ticket? Are you excited? Hopeful? Well, good for you. Rich Smith of The Motley Fool thinks you're a sucker.

"The truth is that getting rich from winning the lottery isn't just unlikely. It's (statistically) impossible," Smith writes.

And he's not the only one. In fact, according to the folks at Bloomberg, our entire state ranks ninth in the U.S. on the lottery "sucker index," which measures how much each state's residents spend on lottery tickets and compares that amount to how much they win. You'll be pleased to learn that both New Jersey and New York are apparently even bigger suckers than we are. (Georgia is number one.) State-run lotteries have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling in the country, according to Bloomberg.

In other words, if you can wait until late Saturday night, .

Enough pessimism, though. Let's indulge in the fantasy for a few minutes, since that's the best part of buying lottery tickets, anyhow.

Say you do win, and say you go for the cash option, which gives you $389 million all at once instead of a $540 million annuity. What does a $389 million pile of cash do for you? Let's put the jackpot in perspective.

Three-hundred-eighty-nine million makes you quite a bit richer than presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who is worth about $200 million). It leaves you well short of rapper P. Diddy, though ($475 million). And you're still a little person, financially, to "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling ($1 billion), Oprah Winfrey ($3.2 billion) or New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg ($18 billion).

You could buy a pair of F-22 fighter jets ($154 million each), or take your friends around the world in your very own Airbus A380 ($264 million). You could start a high speed delivery service for very small parcels and equip your drivers with a fleet of 100 Bugatti Veyrons ($2.4 million a pop).

If you're a baseball fan, maybe it's not too late to grab a 19 percent minority stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, which earlier this week. I'm sure you can wear your Phillies gear in the owners' box. Okay, maybe not.

Regardless, if you're lucky enough to win any large amount of money, your first order of business shouldn't be a shopping trip. Instead, call your financial adviser. Maryland that a big jackpot needs a team to help you manage it.

“The first thing I would recommend would be to put a team together including a lawyer, a financial adviser, an accountant among others. This type of money would set up you, your children and future generations for life if managed properly,” DiPaula said.

Mike Shortall Sr March 30, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Geez ... Way to rain on the parade! BTW ... You're about $100 million off from what I hear is the new pot total is! Yes, your odds of hitting are astronomical. (Put the names of EVERY Russian citizen on individual pieces of paper; stick them in a very, very, very large hat; and try to pick out the slip with Vladimir Putin's name!) And it shouldn't be "Plan A" of your retirement fund. But it is the American Dream! So Pennsylvania is #9 on the Lottery Sucker List. So what?? We only care if it's the State of Pennsylvania actually being so near-sighted with our money. With our own individual Dream of Dreams, a few bucks tossed into The Black Hole of Whimsical Possibilities is a cheap diversion from working for barely a living and the possibility of $6-a-gallon gas! And somebody, somewhere has to win ... Why the need to toss a bucket of cold water over our heads?!? Leave us to our constant partying, frivilously spending, Bill Gates-like philantrophy dreams! I just found $1.28 in the sofa cushions, so guess where I'm headed! (Please play responsibly. As if ...)

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