Mega Millions Mania: Dreamers Seek the Internet

Lottery ticket

Image from: Lottery Ticket Image / Shutterstock

Hey, it could have happened. It was a pleasant Friday dream. Now, back to the dullness of a regular-salary, four cups of coffee-or-else Monday morning, and I’m stuck writing this blog post. The know-it-alls, professionally known as statisticians, weren’t lying after all. Winning the world record $640 million jackpot is less probable than setting your own world record.  According to the LA Times, you are 19 times as likely to be struck by lightning twice, 33 times as likely to be killed in the next year by bees, and 40 times as likely to be dealt five blackjacks in a row as you are to win Mega Millions.

But with those odds, how could I say no to a personal contribution of 2 bucks to the lottery pool at the office? There is no such thing as TOO much money, right? Some colleagues were reluctant to expand the invite to more and more co-workers as that would automatically diminish the individual cut by tens of millions of dollars once we split the winnings (you know, since a group of Data employees were, without a doubt, going to win).  And by the time the mega millions e-mail from our trustworthy group leader went out on Friday night brimming with detailed notes and instructions to follow once we won the lottery (“future millionaires, follow the protocol discussed in the news and not share the information with anyone until we can lawyer up”), there were 18 of us in total. That would be a cool $20 mil each. I was getting Goosebumps.

I took to the Internet to find out more details about my winnings, as I had no idea how the “balls” were even played to decide the fate of a few Americans. The Mega Millions website has a great “How to Play” page for curious/hopeful/overly confident/borderline cocky Americans like myself who radiate the assurance to everyone around them that they’re going to win, and the first thing they’re going to buy will certainly be something ridiculous.

Looks like others are doing the same, turning to websites like, where daily reach and attention spiked on Friday (people like me, getting sucked into the maddening headlines and trying to uncover what their fortune would look like as a one-time lump sum vs. annual payments), which became the highest peak for both daily metrics during the past year. Reach continued rising on Saturday, and attention still remained quite high (anxious lottery players checking Friday night’s fate-determining winning numbers), but interestingly enough not higher than Friday. Post winners announcement, the site definitely reaches Americans, but once they check the numbers and realize they have to return to work on Monday to write blogs, can’t quite hold their same attention as on Friday, when the dream was still a glowing (and possible) one.

Daily Reach and Daily Attention to,, and all show a similar surge in daily reach during this same time frame – as the jackpot rushes upward and breaks one record after the other, so does the daily traffic.

Daily Reach to,, and

The buzz question of the week remains to be WWTLWD: What will the lottery winner do? Too bad the three lucky ones didn’t include Compete employees, but if it were me, I would probably fall over, and then write another blog post, obviously.

About Jessica Davidson:
Jessica Davidson is a Project Manager on the data team at Compete, and revels in working with big data on a daily basis. She is a graduate of Northeastern University, having completed her B.A. in Mathematics. Feel free to connect with Jessica about all things digital and intelligent on LinkedIn.

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  1. a

    WOW! Extremely interesting statistic – “Winning the world record $640 million jackpot is less probable than setting your own world record” is ridiculously small chance… And then the info graphics mentioned, yes – That is what a big Social Media Hype will do to your website traffic and search trends. Thanks for sharing a great post and worth while read.


  2. bruce

    Winning big would definitely have been a dream come true. But playing was fun and I can say I am a lottery winner because I won $2!


  3. Jason

    I cannot agree more Mrs Davidson!


  4. val

    I just hope we don’t have to wait for you winning the lottery to write your next blog post :).


  5. Lindsey Mark

    Cute post, I love seeing the spikes in daily reach and attention. You can tell being the lucky winner was really on people’s minds!


  6. Linda

    we all need to dream big…….good luck in the next lottery!


  7. Mom

    WoW! your first blog post!! I’m soo proud of you very professional!! I LOVE it! Love, mom


    • Frank

      One of the 3 winners came forward to claim their share ($198 million-before taxes) They are a retired couple from IL who live in a small farming town. They were quoted as saying they were going to look for ways to invest rather than spend their winnings. Come on they are 67 years old -they can’t take it with them. They have lead a conservative life -I think it’s time they “let their hair down” and have some real fun. I feel nothing says fun like spending $5+ million on stuff you have always dreamed of but could not afford. That’s some retirement fund!!!


  8. Jim

    Very well written, shows wit and knowledge, keep up the good work!


  9. Elisabeth

    Despite the odds, I plan to keep buying lottery tickets every time I have a bad day at work! LOL that could be a substantial investment…


  10. Asa

    Sorry you didn’t win! However, you were lucky to have such a well organized ticket buyer who wrote up the details of the ticket arrangement. It’s often the case in these group buy-ins that when one of the tickets wins there’s controversy about it (like the buyer claims the winning ticket was bought as a personal ticket). Sounds like your organizer had you covered in case you actually won.


  11. Susan J

    I have to admit I did spend some time dreaming about what I would do if I won the lottery. I also got into a lottery pool with my co-workers. I felt even though the odds are so slim it couldnt hurt to try.
    But back to work for me since I wasn’t one of the lucky winners.

    Nice blog post……


  12. Christopher @ This That and The MBA

    I spend way too much time dreaming and sometimes I really think that I may have a chance of winning. I have made sure that whenever colleagues buy at work I always get in, I do not want to be one of those left if they did happen to win by the slim chance!