A Complete Guide to Guaranteeing Yourself a Powerball Win Tonight*

Five tips to make sure you win. *Note: Actual odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 175,223,510.

Your chance to hit it big is tonight!

By now you’ve heard: Tonight’s Powerball jackpot is at least $500 million. Five hundred million! That’s enough for 10 copies of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on Amazon (there are only 10 copies left in stock).

If you haven’t stopped reading this column to go buy a bunch of losing lottery tickets, a primer: If you haven’t played in a while, tickets are now $2. This was part of a plan to create more money for the states that run the Multi-State Lottery Association, a non profit owned by 33 state lotteries. Like all government-run gambling, Powerball has terrible odds. It’s basically a way to transfer money from the poor, stupid and unlucky to various special interest groups (in Pennsylvania it’s old people).

As such, the lottery is just luck. But that hasn’t stopped the media from reporting on ways to cheat the system! Both Fox & Friends and Today interviewed Richard Lustig, an Orlando man who has won the lottery seven times, and offered tips on improving your odds of winning Powerball. A game that’s complete luck.

That being said, I know what sells in this industry. And so, I present to you: The official Philly Post guide to guaranteeing a Powerball win tonight!

1. Buy a ticket. Literally, you cannot play without purchasing a ticket. The lottery is a real game, not one of those lame “no purchase necessary” contests.

2. Pool your money. There is no real skill needed to play the lottery other than the ability to hand over money to a clerk and receiver a ticket in return. The only way to increase your chances of winning is to buy more tickets. But who wants to fork over hard-earned money for a game with impossibly small odds? Even I know that’s stupid, and I’m dumb enough to spend a ridiculous amount of time playing video poker at Revel over the weekend. (I lost $40, and got four free drinks. Hopefully that keeps it afloat.)

Don’t chase lottery dreams all by yourself! Like drugs, a gambling high is much better with friend to make sure you don’t overdose. Pool money with your coworkers and buy scores of Powerball tickets. Your chance of winning the lottery remains infinitesimal, but it becomes slightly less so! And, absolutely, if someone in your work is collecting money for tickets, you must play. Remember, it was just earlier this year that 48 SEPTA employees won a $172 million jackpot. Your office isn’t winning the lottery, but what if it does and you weren’t in on it? I’m intentionally offering you bad financial advice. But it’s a good time for your sanity.

3. Pick the numbers yourself, or maybe not. The New York Daily News also doled out advice on picking a winning ticket when Mega Millions offered a $656 million jackpot in March. The paper talked to seven-time champ Lustig, who is conveniently also the author of a book, Learn How to Increase your Chances of Winning the Lottery. He says to always pick your own numbers. On the other hand, Emory University mathematician Skip Garibaldi says that “70 percent of winners are quick picks.”

Crap, this is confusing. An alternate route to riches might be to write a book. Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery is 40 pages and retails for $40. I’m going to write a book on the lottery. It will contain just one page: “The only winning move is not to play.” Retail: $50.

4. Cheat. The April 24, 1990 Pennsylvania daily number was 6-6-6. Spooky, right? Not really: It was rigged! The triple-6 drawing was orchestrated by Pennsylvania Lottery announcer Nick Perry and several associates; Perry swapped most of the lottery balls with weighted duplicates that couldn’t be pulled out of the machine. The winning number was certain to be some combination of 4s and 6s.

Unfortunately for the schemers, the plan was caught easily: Brothers Peter Maragos and Jack Maragos were careless in purchasing tickets, even placing obviously large bets with illegal bookmakers on all ‘4’ and ‘6’ number combinations. The scheme cracked. Perry, who never admitted guilt, was sentenced to 7 years in prison; the other conspirators received lesser sentences.

I’m not exactly sure how you could replicate this scheme today, but, hey, just wanted to point out that cheating is an option.

5. When you lose, be relieved you didn’t actually win. Professional athletes have taught us two general things: One, how to do a ridiculously entertaining celebratory dance. Two, coming into a lot of money all at once can be a real drag. The lottery works the same way: Peoples’ lives have been changed for the worse by the lottery.

Sure, it’d be nice to win a few hundred mil. But chances are you’ll end up spending it all on some lost cause like the Philadelphia Eagles and it’ll just make you depressed.