"Lotto madness" is sweeping the nation for the second year. With no Mega Millions jackpot winners since April, the grand prize has surged to an estimated $1.2 billion (fourth largest in history) ahead of the next drawing on Friday.
Before we dive into the numbers, let's clearly understand that the lottery is a tax on poor people. Those who can do simple math understand the odds are against them, though it's widely played by the working poor with hopes of breaking free from debt and poverty.
"$1.25 BILLION: Mega Millions jackpot set to deliver unimaginable wealth. After 30 drawings without a jackpot winner, the multi-state Mega Millions lottery game now boasts a cresting jackpot of $1.25 billion that could instantly put someone among the wealthiest people on the planet," USA MEGA wrote on its website.
The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot stand around 1 in 302.6 million. Those playing have better odds of getting struck by lightning (1 in 15,300). But let's say there is one lucky winner -- that person can choose between 30 annual payments of $26.287 million after federal taxes or an immediate cash payout of $393.976 million.
We say the lotto craze is back because the search term "when is mega millions drawing" has soared to levels not seen since last year's record-breaking $2 billion jackpot.
Bloomberg data shows the number of news stories containing "Powerball Jackpot" are also soaring.
In 2012, we told readers, "Lotteries essentially target and encourage lower-income individuals into a cycle that directly prevents them from improving their financial status and leverages their desire to escape poverty."
And Advancing Time blog's Bruce Wilds wrote last year during the first billion-dollar lotto craze that Americans are being inflicted with "lotto madness" as the Powerball jackpot continues to soar. He said, "for many people a Powerball ticket is a cheap trip down fantasy lane for the poor it is throwing away money they can't afford."