Mega Millions Jackpot of $586 Million is Second Largest in History After Lottery Rules Change

The Mega Millions jackpot now stands at $586 million for the draw that takes place on Tuesday. This is the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history and the fourth largest jackpot in North America.

The cash option for a single winner would be $316.5 million, before taxes, but Lottery officials recently changed the way the numbers are selected, leading to more overall winners but less of a chance of winning the jackpot.

Before the change customers picked five numbers from 1-56 and one number from 1-46. The new structure has players choosing five numbers from 1-75 and one number from 1-15 with the game also incorporating different prize levels.

There is now a 1 in 15 chances of winning a prize, but the odds of winning the jackpot are now 1 in 259 million up from the 1 in 176 million before the changes, Paula Otto, lead director of Mega Millions and executive director of Virginia Lottery, told USA TODAY Network.

Still with a building frenzy surrounding the jackpot, some have suggested that there are definitely strategies to increase the odds. One strategy involves tracking.

"Numbers that appear often in a certain game are called hot numbers. Some players will play these hot numbers exclusively on the assumption that since they have appeared often in the past, they should appear again in the future," according to a recently aired TLC special.

A second technique is called "wheeling." Wheeling involves playing the same set of numbers from multiple tickets, in different arrangements.

"Wheeling consists of making up a master list of your best picks, then, using a coded system, playing them in different combinations in a sort of round-robin. Some wheels even carry specific win guarantees," TLC confirmed.

What may shock some is that there are actually wheel experts from whom you can purchase your own wheel. Of course if all of that sounds like too much work, you can head for the office pool instead.

The "pooling" method involves a number of people getting together to share the expense of tickets in order to buy more tickets. However, don't forget that means sharing the jackpot too, although it may not be too terrible to share 6 million with a couple of people.

Despite such strategies and the many others that exist, some mathematicians say that such efforts are in vain.

"Some numbers do seem to definitely appear more than others comparing the standard deviation," Matthew Vea, an army reservist and programmer said, told AP "However, that said, I do joke that if that kind of analysis truly did produce a winning result, I would be a millionaire by now. The fact that I have a day job shows there's no predicting the lottery."

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