Mega Millions tickets sales brisk ahead of Tuesday's drawing

Business was brisk Tuesday at Ernie's Liquors in East San Jose. That's because there would soon be a drawing for a Mega Millions jackpot worth $1.1 billion.

"I came here to buy because over here, (this is) a lucky store. So I buy $20 (worth of tickets) today. I hope I win," said Hanna Kondo, who purchased tickets during the lunch hour.

A lot of people were hopeful Lady Luck would shine again at Ernie’s. This business has a history of selling winning lottery tickets. So, lottery players were hoping they'll be the next person to walk away with millions – or even a billion dollars.

"Try to check on my luck a little bit. That’s all it is. (I) just randomly (pick the numbers). I have no plan. Nothing at all," said one man who didn’t want to reveal his name.

Should players rely on a random draw from the machine? Or use birthdays, anniversaries, or numbers associated with luck?

Experts said none of that may increase your odds.

"First of all, the odds are very, very small in possibly winning. So it’s one in over 302-million that you’d be able to win. But if you want to increase your odds in winning what you have to do is buy more tickets," said Caroline Chen.

Customers were excited for a Mega Millions drawing worth $1.1 billion on August 1, 2023. (KTVU FOX 2)

A San Jose State University tax law expert, Chen also is a student of playing long odds. When she says buy more tickets, she means hundreds of thousands of dollars of Mega Millions tickets. The more combinations of numbers that are selected, the better odds of a match. But, not a solo win on the jackpot, because someone else could select the same sequence of numbers.

"The more people that play, the likelihood of maybe repeat six-number sequences are gonna be higher. So yes, maybe there wouldn’t be a single winner. Maybe there’s be two, three, four, five, 10," said Chen.

She also said there’s an added benefit of the increased cost of buying many more tickets: That money is tax-deductible against the winning jackpot.

So, the advice for lottery players is to dig deep to spend more, in hopes the payout will be a share of a billion dollars.

"Let’s see what my luck will be," said one player.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv