Today’s best lottery bet: in an upset, it’s Lotto 47
If you buy a Powerball or Mega Millions ticket in Michigan Wednesday, you deserve to lose your money.
It’s not that we wish you ill fortune, but a much better bet is waiting for you at the same lottery machine.
Big-jackpot games like Mega Millions and Powerball tend to draw all the attention, but for now, Lotto 47 is the best bet. (Photo: G-Jun Yam, AP)
Lotto 47, the pack mule among lotto-style thoroughbreds, is offering its third-highest jackpot ever Wednesday night at $20.1 million. Thanks to two strokes of someone else’s fortune and a disaster — the COVID-19 pandemic — the Powerball top prize later that night will be only $22 million, and Tuesday’s Mega Millions figure was only $22 million as well.
It doesn’t take an accounting degree to know that $22 million is more than $20.1 million. Hold on, though: a ticket for the Michigan-only Lotto 47 drawing costs $1, half the price of the two multi-state games — and winning the top prize is about 27 times easier.
After an improbable 64 straight drawings without a Lotto 47 winner, dating to Feb. 8, “I don’t know that you can get a much better return on your $1 investment than $20.1 million,” said Michigan Lottery spokesman Jake Harris.
Not at the odds, anyway. Each ticket’s chance of winning the grand prize is 1 in 10,737,574, meaning the payoff is greater than the odds against claiming it.
As for Powerball and Mega Millions? Odds for the first are about 1 in 292 million, and the second about 1 in 302 million.
You don’t want to bet the house on any of them, please. But at odds of some 300 million-to-1 for a $22 million check, minus taxes, you might not even want to bet the shed.
The highest Powerball jackpot ever was $1.586.4 billion in January 2016. The highest for Mega Millions was $1.537 billion in October 2018. The starting point after someone claims a jackpot had been $40 million, but that baseline was cut by half in the early days of the pandemic.
“The change was made by the groups that run those games, based on ticket sales and interest rates,” Harris said. “They had a number of states, including Michigan, where you had ‘stay home, stay safe’ orders. To make sure they could fund those prizes, they reset to $20 million.”
A losing ticket from Saturday night’s Lotto 47 drawing. There were no winners, and Wednesday’s $20.1 million rollover is the third-highest ever for the game. (Photo: Neal Rubin, The Detroit News)
Recent winners in both multi-state drawings, followed by one rollover, put each jackpot at $22 million just as Lotto 47 was nearing record levels. The most robust Lotto 47 prizes in the game’s various forms, dating to 1984, were $23.6 million in 2008 and $22.6 million in 2017.
In Ann Arbor, statistician Sophia Ng has politely taken a pass on all of them.
Ng works in health services research at the University of Michigan and is president-elect of the Ann Arbor chapter of the American Statistical Association. She speaks fluent math, and grasps that “the probability of wining is small.”
But she’s also conversant in human behavior, “and life is more than numbers and probability. There’s also your personal enjoyment,” and a dollar or two might seem like a small price for a daydream — again, at long odds.
Consider Powerball and Mega Millions, built for repeated rollovers and attention-getting jackpots, and consider a road built from Nome, Alaska, through Key West, Florida, and all the way to Havana.
The road would stretch 4,576 miles, give or take. Bet on a butterfly landing on one specific inch of it, and that’s 290 million to 1.
Cashing a winning Mega Millions ticket is nearly three times less likely than getting killed by a vending machine, perhaps the one you bought it from.
The advantage of Lotto 47 is that while its potential payoffs are less gaudy, its odds are more imaginable.
Michigan’s population sits just shy of 10 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of greater Toledo is 651,429. Throw in Deerfield Beach, Florida, for another 81,000, just because you’ve thought about retiring there.
If everyone in those places buys a different Lotto 47 ticket, one of them will hold the winner.
Sales of lotto-type games fell markedly in Michigan during the most wide-open pandemic window, from mid-March to August. Powerball was down 48% and Mega Millions 25%, Harris said, with people hunkered down and no giant jackpots to fuel interest. Lotto 47 was off 12%.
Overall, however, state lottery sales are up 7.5% for the fiscal year that began in October, with a powerful shove from online sales — an increase of 130% since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ng, again, did not partake.
“I’m sure I’d be happy if I won,” she conceded.
But she’ll be equally happy saving those dollars for a good cause, she said, and that’s a sure thing.After 64 straight drawings with no jackpot winner, Michigan-only game overpowers Powerball and Mega Millions, at least in a player's odds of winning
Michigan Lotto 47
Lotto 47 is a classic Michigan game with drawings every Wednesday and Saturday at 7:29 PM EST, ticket sales close just before then at 7:08 PM EST – if you buy a ticket after this time, it will be entered into the next draw.
How to Play MI Lotto 47
To play Michigan Lotto 47, simply choose six numbers from 1 to 47. Alternatively, you can choose Easy Pick to have your numbers randomly selected. If you match three or more of your chosen numbers with those drawn in the Lotto 47 draw, you win a prize. Tickets for Lotto 47 cost $1 per play.
- Choose your numbers online
- Choose Easy Pick to have your numbers randomly selected
- Select how many draws to enter in advance (up to a maximum of 60)
- Sign in or create an account to check out
- Check your tickets at any time in the Upcoming Purchased Draws section
- Look out for the winning Lotto 47 numbers, or check back here after the draw to see if youвЂ™ve won
Please note, online play is only available to residents of Michigan. EZmatch is not available for online players.
How to Play In-Store
- Visit an authorized Michigan Lottery retailer to pick up a Lotto 47 slip
- Mark six numbers on the slip between 1 and 47
- Alternatively, select the Easy Pick option to have your numbers randomly selected
- Play EZmatch for an extra $1 by marking the option on the slip
- Select how many draws to enter in advance (up to a maximum of 60)
- Pay the retailer for your ticket
- Store your ticket safely and check back here after the draw to see the winning numbers
If you have an old lottery ticket and want to use the same numbers again, simply hand the ticket to a retailer and ask for a “Replay.” The same ticket will be reproduced for the next available draw. Note that the old ticket will be reprinted for exactly the same number of draws. For example, if you have an old ticket that was bought in advance for ten draws, the new “Replay” ticket will also be for ten draws and you will be charged accordingly.
Lotto 47 Prizes
As well as the jackpot, there are three other prize tiers to play for. Have a look at this table of odds and payouts to see what you could win:
|Match 6 of 6||Jackpot||1 in 10,737,573|
|Match 5 of 6||$2,500||1 in 43,649|
|Match 4 of 6||$100||1 in 873|
|Match 3 of 6||$5||1 in 50|
|Overall odds of winning a Lotto 47 prize are 1 in 47|
You can also give yourself another chance to win prizes every Wednesday and Saturday by adding Double Play to your ticket, at an extra cost of $1 per panel. Your chosen Lotto 47 numbers will then be entered into a second draw, which is held straight after the main game.
Just like the main game, you can win prizes for matching three, four, five or six numbers. The jackpot is worth $1.5 million, while the other prizes are all double their value from the regular draw. It is possible for the same number to appear in both Lotto 47 and the Double Play draw. The odds are exactly the same for both games. The following table shows the prizes that can be won in Double Play.
|Match 6 of 6||$1.5 million|
|Match 5 of 6||$5,000|
|Match 4 of 6||$200|
|Match 3 of 6||$10|
|Overall odds of winning a Double Play prize are 1 in 47|
EZmatch is an instant-win add-on that can be played in-store with Lotto 47 for an additional $1 stake.
When you opt-in to play EZmatch, a set of random numbers will be printed on the lower portion of your Lotto 47 ticket. If one or more of these numbers match those youвЂ™ve selected to play in the main Lotto 47 game, you win the corresponding cash prize printed on the ticket.
Below are the different prizes available to EZmatch players. The odds show the likelihood of that cash amount appearing on an EZmatch ticket and it matching one of your chosen Lotto 47 numbers.Michigan Lotto 47 takes place every Wednesday and Saturday and offers a jackpot of at least $1 million. Buy your ticket online and get the odds of winning in each of the four prize tiers. ]]>