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Mega Millions Fever: Tips for Buying Your Lucky Lottery Ticket

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- Mega Millions fever is gripping the nation.

The jackpot for the lottery game that’s played in 42 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is an estimated $363 million.  Lives will change if a winning number is drawn Tuesday night.

The prize is the third-largest in the game’s history.  The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million in March 2007, according to Mega Millions.

While the chances of winning Mega Million are slim -- the odds of winning the game’s top prize are about 1 in 176 million -- that hasn’t stopped many millions of people from dreaming big.

Richard Lustig is a seven-time lottery winner in Florida who plays the lottery like a full-time job.  Sure, he loses sometimes, but he’s also won more than $1 million.

Here are his tips for buying tickets:

1. Pick your own numbers.  Don’t leave it up to the machine.
2. Do your homework.  Go online and make sure the set or sets of numbers you play have never come up before.
3. Stick with your strategy.  You have to learn what number to play and how often to play.
4. Avoid lottery fever.  When jackpots get this high, Lustig says, people tend to get lottery fever and spend a lot more than they normally would or can afford.  Don’t go crazy; the odds are still the same no matter how much you spend.

Mathematicians and lottery officials have said that the odds of winning are always the same regardless of how many people play because the lottery is always drawn from the same set of numbers.

They agree that allowing the computer to choose your numbers does not necessarily increase your chances of winning.

Statistically, playing the same number time after time doesn’t help you win any faster, either.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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