The psychology of buying a Mega Millions ticket

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It's difficult to resist the temptation of buying a Mega Millions lottery ticket. It's even more difficult to stop imagining how to spend $640 million.

"I’d be like the modern day Elvis. Just walk to convenience stores and buy people a car," said Fred Nash, who bought four Mega Millions tickets at a convenience store in Jamestown Friday afternoon.

"Being on unemployment to $640 million? That would be hard for my heart. So I’d put it in a safe deposit box somewhere, get everything squared away and make sure I had another place to live, and then I’d cash the ticket and be gone," Nash said.

According to the Executive Director of the North Carolina Education Lottery, someone will most likely win tonight. They anticipate 90 percent of all number combinations will be played in tonight's drawing.

But one psychology professor at High Point University said it's still not a good idea to get your hopes up.

"Don’t get too excited. I wouldn’t quit my job in advance. I would not promise people anything. You’re not going to win. Most likely, you’re not going to win," said Dr. Greg Hundt.

However, there's a reason why our brains tell us otherwise, Hundt said.

"It’s something easy to imagine--which, again, winning the lottery certainly is," Hundt said. "We all have our plans on what we’re going to do if we win, and the more you imagine it, the more likely you think you are to win."

Hundt also said it's easier to believe because most people remember seeing other strangers win.

"We see the giant check where someone’s standing there, so we see someone winning. It comes to mind. It seems more likely, even though it’s not. The numbers are all still exactly the same, but the fact that I can bring vivid examples of someone winning, someone with a check, therefore I think I’m more likely to win."

Despite the odds and the research, Dr. Hundt bought five tickets for him and his family.

"For one simple dollar, the idea of spending two or three days driving to work, fantasizing about what would happen if you were the next almost billionaire is worth a buck."