Psychology Behind Gambling Against the Odds

The Mega Millions Jackpot has hit 640 million. The number will keep climbing as long as people keep buying more and more tickets. But, what drives a person who's never bought a lottery ticket before, to buy one now. It's not like their chances are any better. 

The chances of winning this jackpot is 1 in 176 million. What are the chances of the same place that sold the winning Powerball ticket in Newport, to sell another winning ticket? Some people seem to think their chances are pretty good. 

On Friday afternoon, more than 800,000 lottery tickets were sold just in Rhode Island. The spike in ticket sales pushed the jackpot up from 540-million to a whopping 640-million. 

The growing jackpot could be because of people like Marvin Keith. Keith has never bought a lottery ticket before, but for some reason decided to take a chance this time around. 

“I was in 7-Eleven, and everyone else was buying one, so I said get me one too,” said Keith. 

Then there's Elizabeth Meyer who walked out of the Stop & Shop in Newport with 40 Mega Millions tickets. Meyer bought her tickets from the very same place that 81-year-old Louise White purchased her 336-million dollar winning Powerball Ticket. 

People at the Stop & Shop felt the luck was still lingering at the grocery store. 

Dr. Mike McKee, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, says part of the reason we feel that way is because our minds trick us.

McKee says, “We remember that there was a winner there, we see it in the papers and we associate magic with that location.” 

I found one person though, Tom Allen, who says his math skills defy all the hocus pocus that could be surrounding the Newport Stop & Shop. 

“Well you figure the odds of winning, with the odds of this grocery store selling another winning ticket, I calculated it last night, and it's about 1 in 17 trillion.”

If Rhode Island were to sell the winning ticket, it would mean 27 million in taxes for the state.