Did We Get Lucky? Lottery Study and Report | LendEDU (2024)

We’ve all seen the commercials and the billboards. Stories that highlight how one lucky gambler struck gold and won a million dollars playing the lottery making you want to stop everything and buy some scratch-offs.

After all, you have to be in it to win it, or so the saying goes.

But, how realistic is it to actually uncover a fortune from a cheap piece of paper whose identity as either a winner or loser can be uncovered with some loose change?

LendEDU sought to find this answer, or at least discover some themes, by buying $1,000 worth of lottery scratch-offs and seeing how it all unfolded.

While it is not our goal to stop someone from chasing the figurative pot of gold, hopefully our results will provide some clarity into one’s chances of winning the lottery, while also offering some prudence before you decide to spend a small fortune on the chance to win a large fortune.

But first, LendEDU has some newly released lottery data on a state-by-state level. To jump to the results of our personal lottery experiment,click here.

The Most Recent State-By-State Lottery Data

Of all the uncertainties that come with the lottery, one thing is for absolute certain: People love playing the lottery. In fact, each state in the U.S. has its own lottery with the exception of the following seven states: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada (weird, right?), Utah, and Wyoming.

On May 15, 2017 the United State Census Bureau released its preliminary data for the 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Finances. Included in this dataset is the income and apportionment data of state-administered lottery funds. For each state that has its own lottery, the income generated from ticket sales (excluding commissions), and the apportionment of those sales is included. Funds generated from a state’s lottery are divvied up in one of three ways: prizes for winning tickets, administrative bills, and leftover proceeds available. ​

For starters, the United States as a whole ​made $66,788,035,000 in income generated from all of the states’ respective lotteries. $42,278,889,000 of this was used for prizes, $3,180,173,000 was expended on administration, and $21,352,759,000 was the total proceeds remaining.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s population projection for the entire country in 2016 was 32​3,127,513. If we divide the total income generated from various lotteries by the total population of the U.S., then each American spends an average of $206.69 on lottery tickets per year.

LendEDU took the statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau a step further and found the average amount each resident spends in lottery tickets in their respective state. Residents of Massachusetts spend the most on lottery tickets per capita, and it is not even close. Massachusetts’ lottery expense per capita came in at $734.85. The next closest state was Rhode Island, where people spend an average of $513.75 per year on lottery tickets. These New England states were followed by Delaware ($420.82), New York ($398.77), and West Virginia ($359.78).

Americans who call North Dakota their home state spend the least on lottery tickets yearly ($34.09). North Dakota was followed by Oklahoma ($43.74), Montana ($53.19), New Mexico ($65.84), and Nebraska ($78.52).​

Not surprisingly, the biggest and most populous states saw the greatest yearly lottery revenues. New York’s yearly lottery revenue was the greatest at $7,783,768,000, followed by California ($5,524,851,000), Florida ($5,277,739,000), Massachusetts ($5,005,635,000), and Texas ($4,281,136,000).

North Dakota generated the least yearly revenue from their lottery ($25,841,000), followed by Montana ($55,451,000), Vermont ($104,861,000), New Mexico ($137,017,000), and South Dakota ($147,933,000).​

Below, you will find two bar graphs, each representative of a different statistic. The first graph represents the lottery expense per capita in each state, while the second ​graph is indicative of the yearly lottery revenue in each state.

What Happened When LendEDU Bought $1,000 Worth of Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets?

LendEDU wanted to put the probabilityof hitting it huge with lottery tickets to the test. So, we did exactly that and bought $1,000 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Did We Get Lucky? Lottery Study and Report | LendEDU (1)

This is what it looks like when LendEDU purchases $1,000 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets.

We were able to manage our budget so that we could purchase a wide variety of tickets including two types of $1 scratch-offs, four types of $2 scratch-offs, seven types of $5 scratch-offs, four types of $10 scratch-offs, two types of $20 scratch-offs, and one $30 scratch-off.

Did We Get Lucky? Lottery Study and Report | LendEDU (2)

Each type of scratch-off purchased by LendEDU, starting with $1 tickets and moving right towards the $30 ticket.

And then, we got to scratching.

Did We Get Lucky? Lottery Study and Report | LendEDU (3)

Results of the LendEDU Scratch-Off Experiment:

Overall Performance from $1,000 Worth of Scratch-Offs:

As one can see from the firsttable, we tried the best we could to have equal values for each of the different types of scratch-off lottery tickets. The most amount of wins came from the $1 scratch-off tickets, but that is because $1 tickets were the most common type of lottery ticket by a wide margin.

The $5 tickets proved to have the highest winning percentage, which was 36.36 percent. This was followed by the $10 ticket’s winning percentage of 23.53 percent, and the $20 scratch-off’s winning percentage of 22.22 percent. The $1 and $2 tickets each recorded a winning percentage of 20.00 percent, while no wins took place with the $30 tickets. Overall, our winning percentage was 21.66 percent.

In terms of win value, the clear winner was the $20 tickets, but that was only because one $20 ticket won LendEDU $500, the highlight of the experiment. The $2 scratch-offs brought home $142, while the $5 tickets returned the third most value at $125. In total, LendEDU won $974.

We also calculated return on investment (ROI) on each type of ticket, and only one ticket type, the $20 scratch-offs, gave LendEDU a positive return. The $20 tickets had an ROI of 188.89 percent, followed by the $2 tickets had a return of -16.47 percent. $5 tickets had an ROI of -24.24 percent, while $1 scratch-offs returned -38.18 percent on the investment. The ROI on $10 scratch-offs was -50.00 percent, and finally, the $30 scratchers had an ROI of -100 percent, the worst of the bunch. Our ROI from all tickets combined was -2.6 percent.

Without the one $20 ticket that returned $500, LendEDU’s scratch-off experiment would have resulted in some seriously red numbers.

Overall, it seems that LendEDU got really lucky. But, thats the premise of the lottery right? Had we not had the one $20 scratch-off that brought in $500, we would have lost $526, instead of only losing $26.

Our advice?

Playing the lottery is an extremely risky investment that, more times than not, drains your bank account and your dreams of retiring on a yacht in Saint-Tropez. Because we bought such a high volume of tickets, we were able to survive this experiment with minimal losses. However, considering the average American spends roughly $206.69 on lottery tickets per year, most people are simply throwing their money away. It would take the average American nearly five years to spend $1,000 on lottery tickets like we did, and thenjust maybe,theywould uncover the winning lottery ticket that mitigates their past losses or makes them a winner.

Below, you can find some more tables that depict how LendEDU fared with each individual ticket type.

Results From the $1 Scratch-Offs:

Results From $2 Scratch-Offs:

Results From the $5 Scratch-Offs:

Results From $10 Scratch-Offs:

Results From the $20 Scratch-Offs:

Results From the $30 Scratch-Offs:


All data used for the lottery analysis on a state level was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau. First, we used the preliminary data for the2015 Annual Survey of State Government Finances, which was just released on May 15, 2017. This data was further broken down for government finances for each state’s respective lottery, This data provided the revenue generated from that year from the lottery. The second data file that was used from the U.S. Census Bureau was thestate population totalsand the population projections from 2016. Each state’s lottery revenue was divided by that state’s population for 2016 to find the yearly lottery expense per capita, which was then used to create the various maps and tables.

For LendEDU’s own lottery study, we went to various convenience stores around Hoboken, New Jersey and purchased $1,000 worth of scratch-offs. We bought a certain amount of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $30 scratch-off tickets so that their total values were as equal as possible. Winning percentage was calculated by dividing the number of winning tickets by the total number of tickets. Win value was calculated by adding up the totals from each winning ticket. Return on Investment was calculated by purchase value from the win value, and then dividing that number by the purchase value, and then multiplying by 100.

See more of LendEDU’s Research

Did We Get Lucky? Lottery Study and Report | LendEDU (2024)


What numbers are most likely to win the lottery? ›

If you plan to play the drawing, do you have numbers in mind? A new study reveals the lottery numbers you should play to win big: The number 28 is drawn most often across all lotteries, with an average frequency of 201.4. The numbers 16 and 39 are second and third, with average frequencies of 200.6 and 199, ...

Where are the most winning scratch tickets sold? ›

Convenience stores sell the most winning lottery tickets
  • Liquor Stores. 194. ...
  • Supermarket. 109. ...
  • Mom & Pop Shop. ...
  • Bagel/ Doughnut Shop. ...
  • Tobacco Store/ Stand. ...
  • Gas Station. ...
  • Small Grocery Store. ...
  • Miscellaneous Retail Store.
Apr 5, 2024

How do you increase your chances of winning the lottery? ›

To better your chances of winning any lottery, you have to buy more tickets, he said. The more tickets, the more chances of choosing the right combination of numbers.

Are there any successful lottery winners? ›

The largest Powerball jackpot in US history was won by Edwin Castro in Southern California, totaling $2.04 billion. The ticket was sold in Nov. 2022 at Joe's Service Center in an unincorporated community near Los Angeles. Here is a list of the largest jackpots won in the US and the state where the tickets were sold.

What are the 5 most common winning lottery numbers? ›

The five most frequent numbers are 17, 31, 10, 46, and 20 — all five have been drawn at least once since the last Mega Millions jackpot was won in December. As for the Mega Ball, only six numbers have been drawn more than 100 times: 1, 3, 9, 10, 15, and 7.

What is the luckiest lottery numbers ever? ›

What are the luckiest Powerball numbers?
  • 23 - Drawn 85 times.
  • 39 - Drawn 85 times.
  • 33 - Drawn 84 times.
  • 62 - Drawn 71 times.
  • 69 - Drawn 84 times.
  • 64 - Drawn 84 times.
  • 37 - Drawn 83 times.
  • 28 - Drawn 83 times.
Feb 22, 2023

What state has the most winning lottery tickets? ›

New York state is home to the most Mega Millions jackpot winners, with 42 winning tickets sold in the Empire State. California follows with 36 winning tickets sold in-state. The more populated states correlate to selling more Mega Millions jackpot-winning tickets.

What is the most likely scratch card to win on? ›

1. Lucky Numbers – 96.57 % Offering the highest RTP, all scratch card players should be sure to check out Lucky Numbers. Also from Microgaming, this card game offers two chances to win for each card you play.

Has anyone ever won the set for Life scratcher? ›


- A California airport worker is set for life after winning $20 million from a scratch-off lottery ticket. The California Lottery said Durwin Hickman works at a Bay Area airport and bought a $30 Set For Life! ticket on his lunch break.

Who won the lottery 14 times? ›

In the 1990s, Romanian-Australian economist Stefan Mandel and his small team entered the lottery and won. Over and over and over again. The feat, of course, wasn't achieved through having a really lucky set of numbers.

What are the tricks to winning the lottery? ›

  1. Mix Even & Odd Numbers. ...
  2. Split Between Low & High Numbers. ...
  3. Add Up Those Numbers. ...
  4. Buy More Than One Ticket. ...
  5. Don't Group Your Numbers Together. ...
  6. Don't Repeat Winning Numbers. ...
  7. Try Doing The Easy Pick Yourself.

Has anyone ever won Mega Millions with Quick Pick? ›

11. $536 Million (Indiana) On July 8, 2016, an Indiana couple won this mega jackpot after buying 5 Quick Pick tickets on a road trip. The winning family was able to remain anonymous by accepting their prize through a law firm in the state.

How long does it take lottery winners to get their money? ›

If you elected the cash option or if your prize is only offered in a single payment, your check should arrive approximately six to eight weeks from your claim date. If your prize is to be paid in installments, your first payment should be available within six to eight weeks from your claim date.

Do lottery winners need security? ›

A security professional or firm can help protect you, your family and your assets.” An accountant is also an essential hire when you come into a large sum of money.

How to give money to family after winning the lottery? ›

Think about trusts or annuities: If you don't want family members to squander the money immediately, consider placing it in a trust or annuity for each member. This will release the cash at a predictable rate and ensure the money lasts.

Is there a way to predict winning lottery numbers? ›

There is no such thing as a winning formula because lotteries are games of chance. There is no strategies which can give a player a better than average chance of beating the odds.

What are the 7 luckiest numbers for Lotto Max? ›

Of the past 4,160 plays, the number 45 ranks number one being drawn 566 times. Next comes the numbers 31, 34, 38, 40 and 43. The number 5 is the most commonly drawn for the Bonus ball number. Top numbers selected for Lotto Max of the past 979 draws include 19, 39, 28, 7, 2, 24 and 30.

What are hot numbers in the lottery? ›

Hot numbers are the numbers that are drawn most often in any given lottery in any given time frame.

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