ORLANDO, Fla. - The Powerball jackpot is at a record $550 million. And while your odds of winning are about one in 175 million, a lottery expert said he has a few tips that may increase your chances.
Richard Lustig has won seven lottery grand prizes, and although he says he isn't sure of the exact total of his winnings, it is in the millions of dollars.
"Luck has nothing to do with it," he says. "I am a guy who started playing it like everyone else. When I won my fourth grand prize I knew I was onto something."
Lustig details the method he claims can help you hit the jackpot in his book "Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery."
To get started, he said players should start thinking of the lottery as your job, which means playing every week. Part of "playing smart," he said, is sticking with a budget and only buying the number of tickets you can afford.
"You don't want to wake up Thursday morning and realize you're a loser and then pull your hair out trying to replace the money you spent," Lustig said.
And what about the numbers? Should Lotto players choose their own or let the computer do all the work? While Powerball's website says 70 to 80 percent of winners are from Quick Picks, Lustig said that is not the way to go.
"Every time you buy a Quick Pick, the set of numbers is unique, which always puts you at the worst odds, one in 175 million."
Lustig said there is no right or wrong way to pick numbers, but it is key to do research to determine if the "numbers" are good. He said he details how to do this is his book.
And when you do cash in, Lustig said winners should use one-third of the money for bills and savings, one-third for fun and one-third for more lottery tickets.
"Don't play for greed. Play smart," Lustig said.
Jeremy Elson, a senior researcher at Microsoft, said it's OK to dream, but don't quit your day job just yet.
"Mathematically, its not a good bet to buy a lottery ticket even though the jackpot is very large," Elson said. "You could line up 175 million pennies on the road from Los Angeles all the way to Chicago and just a single one of them has an X on it. You have the same chance of winning the lottery as taking a road trip stopping alongside the road as a random place flipping over a penny and finding the X."
Read more tips at WinningLotteryMethod.com.