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How to Play the Lottery, Because the Powerball Jackpot Is $300 Million and With North Korea You Might As Well

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A customer buys Powerball tickets at Kavanagh Liquors on January 13, 2016 in San Lorenzo, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Playing the Powerball is, for the vast majority of people, an exercise in futility. No matter how good it may feel in the moment to buy a ticket that could land you a house in Hawaii or a private jet, it's nearly impossible to emerge victorious: The odds of winning the grand prize are roughly one in 292 million, meaning you're statistically more likely to become a saint, win an Academy Award or get killed by an asteroid.

In a normal world, it's not even worth getting excited over the fact that the Powerball jackpot is at $307 million and the Mega Millions jackpot is $382 million.

Related: Powerball Jackpot Pushes Into Record Territory

But we're not in a normal world. Everything seems to be falling apart. President Donald Trump may or may not have ties to Russian operatives who interfered in our election, North Korea is making missiles that can carry nuclear weapons and is threatening to strike Guam, and Game of Thrones is about to end. In the face of all of that (and more), why not distract yourself/prepare for the apocalypse by spending a few bucks on the lottery?

Here's what you need to know.

What is the Powerball? What is Mega Millions? What's the difference?

Both are lottery games offered in more than 40 states. In Powerball, a ticket costs $2, the jackpot starts at $40 million and drawings take place Wednesdays and Saturdays. In Mega Millions, a ticket costs $1, the jackpot starts at $15 million and the drawings take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. In both cases, you select a series of numbers that have to match the ones picked by organizers.

What's a jackpot? How can I win it?

The jackpot is a pool of money that keeps growing until someone wins it. In Powerball, you can win the jackpot if organizers draw white balls matching all five of your numbers (in any order) plus one red ball with your number. In Mega Millions, it's the same but with one yellow ball instead of red. You can also win smaller prizes for matching certain combinations of white and colored balls to your numbers.

Do people actually get rich from these things?

How much money a winner actually gets depends on whether they take the prize in annual payments or a lump sum, but yes. Last year, for example, the Powerball jackpot reached about $1.6 billion, and three people split it. One of the winning couples walked away with roughly $300 million they told reporters they would partially donate to their church.

Tell me some tips that will help me win.

Lottery winner Richard Lustig has recommended people avoid Quick Pick ticket options, play every week and repeatedly use the same numbers. He also told Forbes players should be careful about their finances. "Set a budget of what you're going to spend. Do not get caught up in what's called lottery fever. Don't spend grocery money. Don't spend rent money. Figure out what you can afford to spend. Don't worry about how much Joe Blow down the street is spending," Lustig said. "Figure out what your budget is, what you can comfortably afford to spend, and stay within that budget."

How do I know how I did?

You can tune into the drawings on TV or check the winning numbers online. Good luck, and don't forget your good friends at Newsweek if you win.

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