Is It Possible to Purchase Every Possible Combination?
If you were a billionaire and money was of no issue, what prevents you from purchasing every possible lottery combination for the Mega Millions? More to the point, IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE to buy every single combination possible?
On February 25th, 1992, the odds of winning the $ 27 million Virginia Lottery was 1 in 7 million. An Australian investor syndicate purchased approximately 5 million lottery tickets (time prevented them from buying the entire 7 million different combinations) —and they won the jackpot.
Because of this rare situation, Virginia officials were worried about another instance of a group spending millions to purchase as many combinations as their money could afford, the lottery officials debated restricting the bulk sales of lottery tickets. At the public hearing, there was much criticism from the public. One person stated that people just do not want to wait in line behind someone who has been there for days, just buying tickets.
When the hearing was concluded, then Governor L. Douglas Wilder stated that sales agents must take orders from individuals in line before completing orders from absentee buyers. The reasoning behind this recommendation was that the store that took the order for the Australian syndicate had to put an “out of order” sign on the lottery terminal while an employee printed thousands of tickets for the group.
The Logistics of Bulk Purchasing
Typically, when you purchase a lottery ticket, you have to fill out a scantron sheet. Now if you are an avid lottery player, you know that this can be a very time-consuming task. So if you were able to afford to purchase a ticket for every combination (we will stick with the same example from above for posterity), it would take an incredibly long time to fill out 7 million scantrons—much less how much time it would take for a lottery terminal to print them all out.
So, how were the Australians able to get around having to fill out those pesky scantrons? They paid multiple retailers to sell the blocks of lottery tickets in bulk. This resulted in at least one store closing down its lottery terminal. Even by circumventing the need for the scantrons to be filled out, the group was only able to purchase 5 million of the combinations.
Let us not forget that large lotteries, like Powerball or Mega Millions, also take place twice a week. So you have a minimal time frame in which you can purchase those tickets. As you can imagine, such time constraints add another layer of difficulty to the scheme.
What if You Do Win?
Now, what would happen if you DID win after spending $5 million on tickets? Well, other than having 4,999,999 losing lottery tickets that you have to sift through to find the winner and what you will have to do to dispose of all those losing tickets. Of course, you would win the jackpot ($ 27 million in the Australian case) minus the $ 5 million you invested. Hey, you have to spend money to make money, right?
But… what about those instances when there is more than one winner? Not only would the jackpot be decreased because you have to split the winnings with other winners, but you are also out that initial $5 million! Now THAT does not sound appealing in the least. With that possibility in mind, it makes you wonder why anyone would even think about purchasing every known combination for a particular lottery. That is just ridiculous! Not only do you have time and money to contend with, but you also have the possibility of other winners taking a slice of the pie.