Good Question: Quick Pick vs. Pick your own lotto numbers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — So, none of us hit the massive Powerball jackpot. Bummer. You still have a shot at Mega Millions tonight!

That jackpot is barely half the size of what Powerball got to, just about $278 million.

Have you ever wondered what the best option for buying a ticket is?

When you buy a lotto ticket you have two choices. Pick your own numbers or go Quick Pick and let the computer do it for you.

Is one choice better than the other?

The short answer– no.

Math experts and lotto officials will tell you there’s a common misconception that the odds of winning are different if you go with your own numbers, like a combination important to you personally, birthdays, anniversaries, etc… versus taking a random line spit out from the computer.

It just isn’t true. The odds of winning remain exactly the same no matter how you pick.

  • Odds for winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350
  • Odds of hitting Powerball grand prize are 1 in 292,201,338

How do most winners buy their lotto tickets?

News10NBC’s Brennan Somers got these numbers from the NYS Gaming Commission. Powerball is our example, going back to 2010.

12 FIRST 9 75.00%
331 SECOND 239 72.21%
2,748 THIRD 2106 76.64%
86,116 FOURTH 65,507 76.07%
156,925 FIFTH 121,828 77.63%
4,812,583 SIXTH 3,691,659 76.71%
2,941,349 SEVENTH 2,269,216 77.15%
20,609,913 EIGHTH 15,837,086 76.84%
45,441,901 NINTH 35,541,721 78.21%

There have been 12 grand prize winning tickets sold in NY. Nine Quick Picks. That works out to 75%.

Same trend for all the smaller winnings too over the years, between 70-80%.

Don’t let that mislead you. Quick Pick is fast and easy so most people do that. Lotto officials say roughly 70 to 80% play that way. The law of averages just works out over time.

Here’s the other thing, you can buy one ticket, five, or 10, but remember that only gives you more chances at winning and not better chances at becoming a millionaire.

The odds never change.

Let’s also leave you with this final thought. Here’s one reason to not pick your own numbers–you might not win as much.

We’re all human and somewhat alike so we’re more likely to pick some combinations more than others. That means more people will get to share the prize if they win with the same numbers.