ORLANDO, Fla. - The Powerball jackpot is at a record $550 million. And while your odds of winning are about one in 175 million, a lottery expert says he has a few tips that may increase your chances.
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Richard Lustig has won seven lottery grand prizes, and although he says he isn't sure of the exact total of his winnings, it is in the millions of dollars.
"Luck has nothing to do with it," he says.
Lustig details the method he claims can help you hit the jackpot in his book "Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery."
To get started, he said players should start thinking of the lottery as your job, which means playing every week. Part of "playing smart," he says, is sticking with a budget and only buying the number of tickets you can afford.
"You don't want to wake up Thursday morning and realize you're a loser and then pull your hair out trying to replace the money you spent," Lustig says.
And what about the numbers? Should lotto players choose their own or let the computer do all the work? While Powerball's website says 70 to 80 percent of winners are from Quick Picks, Lustig says that is not the way to go.
"Every time you buy a Quick Pick, the set of numbers is unique, which always puts you at the worst odds, one in 175 million."
Lustig says there is no right or wrong way to pick numbers, but it is key to do research to determine if the "numbers" are good. He says he details how to do this is his book.
And when you do cash in, Lustig says winners should use one-third of the money for bills and savings, one-third for fun and one-third for more lottery tickets.
"Don't play for greed. Play smart," Lustig says.
If you do win, wealth manager Kimberly Stewart says you should take care of family first.
"Set aside some money for family and when that money is done and gone, you're done with it," Stewart said. She also recommends investing in stocks, bonds and annuities.
Attorney Julia Frey, who has represented several lottery winners, says you shouldn't cash in the winning ticket until you have trusts set up and everything documented.
"Anyone who has wealth has to look as asset protection and how do you put yourself in a position where you're not at risk because you have money," said Frey.
Both Frey and Stewart say even $550 million can go fast. Lottery officials say they're selling 10,000 tickets a minute statewide. Officials also said Florida is the biggest seller of Powerball tickets in the nation. You can watch the live drawing on Local 6 News at 10:59 p.m. Wednesday night and Powerball sales stop at 10 p.m.
Read more tips on Lustig's book at WinningLotteryMethod.com.
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