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ST. LOUIS – Most of us develop lottery fever whenever jackpots roll over to nine figures. And while it may be tempting to plunk down a couple of bucks on the occasional Powerball or Mega Millions ticket, you have to consider: am I getting the best odds for my money?

Your chances of winning either the Powerball or Mega Millions are 1 in 292.2 million or 1 in 302.5 million, respectively. Those odds dwarf your chances of dying under highly unusual circumstances, as evidenced by the chart below.

Event or ActivityChances/Odds of Death
Shark attack1 in 3,748,067
Struck by lightning1 in 138,849
Skydiving1 in 101,083 jumps
High school and college football1 per 100,000 participants
Dog attack1 in 86,781
Hornet, wasp, and bee stings1 in 59,507
Choking on food1 in 2,535

The odds of winning smaller prizes in Powerball or Mega Millions are still astronomically high. Your best odds of winning even $100 in Powerball are 1 in 14,494.11. Mega Millions doesn’t have a $100 prize. However, your odds of winning $200 are 1 in 14,547.

Surely, a Missouri Lottery player can score similar odds or better to win that amount of cash or more in other draw games?

Consider this: you have a 1 in 15,480 chance of winning (on average) $715 by playing the Missouri Lotto. That’s a slight increase in odds for much greater winnings.

What about the Show Me Cash drawing? It’s a daily draw game with jackpots starting at $50,000 that roll over every day there isn’t a winner. Your chances of winning $250 are 1 in 3,386.8, far better odds than Powerball or Mega Millions.

The Cash 4 Life game offers odds of 1 in 1,471 to win $100, better value odds than Mega Millions.

Of course, the best value for your gambling dollar may just be the state lottery’s Pick 3 and Pick 4 games. Your odds of winning the top prize in either game are significantly better than those previous odds listed for Powerball and Mega Millions.