This is a simple lotto game, a good place to start analysing. you pick 5 of 37 numbers, if the lotto draws the same 5 numbers you picked, you win the jackpot. There are also set prizes for matching 3 of the 5 you picked($5), and for matching 4 of the 5 you picked($200).
I started by looking at the odds published on the back of the Montana Lottery play slip. They said your odds of matching 5 of 5 were 1:217,949 / $1 played (2 games/$1). I comfirmed this using a lottery calculator (oddscalc) I downloaded from here.
To buy all combinations (buy the pot) would cost $217,949 you would win
So....$217,949 cost - $32,000 - $24,.225 = a Jackpot of $161,724 to make buying a ticket a worthwile endevor.
Oh... Taxes... The Gvt. will probably take about 40% So....$161,724/.6 = $269,540
You will still run the risk of having to share the jackpot with others if there is more than one winner, but every ticket sold adds to the jackpot, and their chance of winning sucks just as much as yours does. That and I don't know how to account for the other players effecting this accounting means, I'm not going to worry about it.
to me, a $269,540 jackpot means it is time to buy a ticket. I'd play 435,898 different sets of numbers at a cost of $217,949 if I had the resources, and the jackpot was far enough above $270K to make it worth the trouble.
Oh yeah, one more thing,... the largest jackpot I know about (in the last six months) was on 11/23/02 $130,000
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last updated 4/11/03