Apr 17, 2017
Behavioral Finance

Interactive: What Are Your Odds Of Winning the Lottery?

Great simulation from LA Times allows you to play multiple iterations of the PowerBall lottery to see how even small wins can’t hide the fact that ultimately you will LOSE!

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Here’s how it works: 

  1. Enter a number between 1-69 in each of the first five boxes under Pick your numbers. 
  2. Choose a number between 1-26 for the QUICK PICK number.
  3. Hit Play!
  4. Set a timer to see how long you last before your Balance goes to $0
  5. At the conclusion of the game, you will get a message like this:

“You’re out of money. You’ve spent $175 playing the lottery and won $75 back. You’re in the hole $100. So why not throw some more money at that problem?”

Questions for students:

  • You are starting with $100. How much do you anticipate having after playing this lottery game dozens of times?
  • You started with $100. What was the highest balance that you had at ANY point during the game? Did you win any of the drawings?
  • What were your emotions during the game?
  • Why do you think the lottery is structured to pay out small prizes to large numbers of players?
  • Why do you think people play the lottery? Has this game changed your view of lotteries?


Interested in this interactive and want to teach your students more about the dangers of lotteries, check out the NGPF Lesson on Playing the Lottery


What else does NGPF have on lottery? Check out the search results here. 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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