Feeling lucky? That might depend on which state you live in, study reveals

Maybe winning the lottery isn’t all dumb luck. Your chances of hitting it big might depend on where you live. A new study reveals the states with the highest number of jackpot wins over the past ten years, along with how Americans embrace luck and superstition in their lives.

California is where most of the nation‘s good fortune lies. The Golden State takes the lead with 16 Mega Millions wins and 11 Powerball jackpots from 2012 to 2022. That gives California a total of 27 jackpot wins over the past ten years, according to the study, led by Bonus.com.

Others that find themselves thanking their lucky stars are those who reside in New York with 22 wins, New Jersey with 19 and Florida with 14. Illinois and Michigan tied for fifth place with nine wins in the last decade.

The lottery seems to play favorites — and the South is not one of them. People in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have had little success with jackpot victory. It’s the same story for states like Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. There have been zero jackpot wins in these 10 states over the past ten years! 

Ironically, Maine’s streak of bad luck finally ended in January of 2023 with a $1.34 billion dollar Mega Millions jackpot win on Friday the 13th, of all days. It was the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time.

Certain states were jinxed from the beginning. The lottery isn’t played in Hawaii, Nevada, Utah and Alabama.

Highest jackpot totals by state

One lucky Californian won a world record jackpot of $2.04 billion in November 2022. The top Mega Millions Jackpot came with a $1.5 billion dollar prize awarded to someone in South Carolina in 2018.

The Golden State also boasts the highest total jackpot winnings with $7.7 billion dollars since 2012. Florida may have placed fifth for the most lotteries won, but is second for total jackpot winnings with $5.5 billion dollars followed by New York ($4 billion) and New Jersey ($3.8 billion).

Luck wins the lottery?

So, how much does luck really have to do with it? Researchers polled 1,000 Americans to take their temperature on good (or bad) fortune. Nearly seven in ten Americans believe in luck. More than 37 percent believe in superstitions being behind their good fortune, while 29 percent believe they can cause bad luck.

Just under half of Americans play the lottery. One in five only play when there’s a big jackpot, and 20 percent dip their toe in once a month. The average person spends $143 on lottery tickets every year.

When entering the stakes, the majority of people (57%) pick specific numbers, and 18 percent admit superstition impacts their ticket-buying habits.

Those who can say they’ve won struggle with who to tell first. Over half of Americans say they wouldn’t tell acquaintances, 53 percent wouldn’t dare share the news with their neighbors, and 49 percent wouldn’t clue in their boss.

Who would they brag to? Friends and family, however, 23 percent of people say they wouldn’t tell their friends and 9 percent say they wouldn’t talk about it to their families.

Then there’s the issue of deciding how to spend your new coin. Sixty-three percent would put their earnings towards buying a new house, 48 percent say they would pay off their debt, and 46 percent say they would share the prize money with their loved ones.

Methodology

Bonus.com analyzed data from Mega Millions’ jackpot history and Powerball’s winner list to determine which states had the most jackpot wins from 2012-2022. We also used this data to analyze the total jackpot money won in each state over the last decade. Additionally, we surveyed 1,055 people across the US about their thoughts on the lottery and luck. Respondents’ ages varied from 18 to 93, with an average age of 35. Of the participants, 48% identified as female, 49% identified as male, and 3% identified as non-binary or transgender.

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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Comments

  1. There’s one piece of data missing that would give needed context: How much each state spends on lottery. California’s $7.7 billion in winnings wouldn’t look so good if players spent $50 billion on tickets.

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