While your odds of winning the jackpot remain the same no matter what, some Mega Millions numbers are a bit more common than others over the past 20 years.
WASHINGTON — With a $1.35 billion prize on the line Friday night, it’s definitely important to pick the right numbers for your Mega Millions ticket. But are all numbers the same?
The short answer is yes: each combination of numbers has a 1 in 302 million chance of winning you the jackpot. While those odds may be astronomical, some numbers do seem “luckier” than others.
What are the most commonly drawn Mega Millions numbers? (Since 2002)
20 – Drawn 131 times
31 – Drawn 125 times
11 – Drawn 124 times
17 – Drawn 123 times
10 – Drawn 120 times
3 – Drawn 117 times
14 – Drawn 116 times
48 – Drawn 115 times
2 – Drawn 115 times
4 – Drawn 115 times
While it would be easy to say you’re more likely to get the jackpot by picking those numbers, it’s not that simple. There’s no strategy to the picks because of the randomness associated with the winning numbers. Even though some numbers have been drawn more than others, that’s to be expected considering the game has been around for more than two decades.
Are some lottery numbers luckier?
Statistics professor Rong Chen said in a Q&A article from Rutgers University that any combination has the same odds. Being selected in the past doesn’t mean a combination is more or less likely to win: “Those numbers have the same chance of winning as any other number today.”
Chen said combinations that other players are less likely to pick, like strong patterns or numbers that are too high to be a birthdate, might reduce your chances of having to share the jackpot. That doesn’t make you any more likely to actually win, though.
How are the Mega Millions numbers picked?
Mega Millions began in 2002, rebranding from “The Big Game,” and changing up the way the game worked. Players were required to match five numbers out of a pool of 52, with 52 options available for the separate Mega Millions ball.
Fun fact, there was a jackpot winner in the very first Mega Millions drawing. A $28 million ticket was sold in Illinois.
According to lottonumbers.com, which tracks lottery statistics, the game has undergone numerous changes since then.
In 2005, it became harder to get all five numbers correct; the pool was raised from 52 to 56. To compensate, lottery designers lowered the pool for the Mega Millions ball to 46 options.
In 2013, the format was changed again, with the main pool expanding to 75 and the Mega Ball pool decreasing to 15 options.
Mega Millions reversed course in 2017, reducing the main ball pool to 70 while upping the Mega Ball pool to 25. This current iteration makes it harder to win the jackpot, but easier for players to win a prize.