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Q: What are the Odds?

Odds of winning 1 in 176 million

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    What are the odds of winning Mega Millions? Worse than you think.

    A world-record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot has lottery players lining up for tickets early Friday and many wondering if there's any way to guarantee becoming an overnight multimillionaire.

    The answer: Not unless you already are one and own a magic wand.

    The jackpot is so large, someone could theoretically buy up every possible number combination, thereby guaranteeing a winning ticket -- but doing so would mean putting up millions of dollars on the front end.

    A $640 million jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $323 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $147 million -- less if your state also withholds taxes.

    But limitations abound. First, if it takes five seconds to fill out each card, you'd need almost 28 years just to mark the bubbles on the game tickets. You'd also use up the national supply of special lottery paper and lottery-machine printing ink well before all your tickets could be printed out.

    A jackpot this large also means a greater chance of multiple winners. And if you have to share the jackpot with even one other winner, you've lost at least $30 million.

    The odds of winning are so low that a player is 50 times more likely to be struck by lightning, 8,000 times more likely to be murdered, and 20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than hit those lucky jackpot numbers.

    NBC 5's Greg Janda also contributed to this report.