Keep hope alive, Lottery fans

The Megabucks prize is nearly $16 million. It's been months since anyone has won the jackpot. Is there even a chance that the computer that chooses the numbers is somehow broken? What assurances do we have that it's even turned on? I know it's random, but ... come on!

— Pamela, Medford

You're hoping for a win, Pamela? What would you buy? And you can't say "world peace." One Since You Asked team member really wants a spaceship and a few jetpacks. To start.

But un-realistic dreams aside, you had a question.

Oregon Lottery officials assure us the machine is definitely not broken. The jackpot is just that statistically elusive.

"It has, indeed, been a long time since anyone has won the Megabucks jackpot," Oregon Lottery public affairs official Chuck Baumann said in an email to Since You Asked, noting that the last time anyone won the jackpot was Oct. 17, 2012, nearly eight months ago.

That's not due ot a broken computer, Pamela, but to the world of probabilities and statistics. The odds of winning the Megabucks' jackpot are daunting: 1 in 6.1 million.

There are better odds of winning a smaller prize, however, Baumann notes. The odds of winning any Megabucks prize are 1 in 25.3, or about 4 percent.

Baumann notes that while there have been no jackpot winners, more than 900,000 Megabucks tickets have won at least some prize, with those ticket holders collecting more than $5 million in prizes since the last jackpot.

The current prize is barely half of the largest Megabucks amount, which was $30 million in November 2004.

Remember, Pamela, the Journey song that goes, "Don't stop believin'."

A Medford resident clinched the fourth-largest Megabucks jackpot of all time in November 2003, a whopping $21.7 million. Keep believin' and maybe you can be on that list, too, someday.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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