Even Though Odds Of Winning Are Astronomical, In The Case Of A Miracle It Makes More Sense To Not Deal With Colleague Stress

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the Mega Millions Jackpot now up to $970 million, and Powerball at $450 million, joining an office pool might seem the best way to go to cover all your bases.

But as CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Thursday, one expert says you’re probably better off playing the lottery on your own.

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Almost $1 billion. Now that’s a jackpot!

The Mega Millions jackpot is approaching $1 billion. The next drawing is Friday night. The Powerball jackpot is approaching $500 million. The next drawing is Saturday. (Photo: CBS2)

Susan Hayes of Massapequa is in it to win it — and doing it solo.

She said for many years she was part of a crowd in a lottery office pool. But it went south the one time they won anything, and it was only $800.

“It was silly and complicated,” Hayes said. “When the check was cut it went to the 10 people whose names were registered as opposed to the 20 who were in the group.”

She said it was sorted out, eventually.

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Jason Kurland, a New York attorney known as the “lottery lawyer,” has represented many winners.

“I say don’t do it,” Kurland said.

Kurland’s job is dealing with the often messy legal aftermath when groups win big with what are essentially verbal and handshake deals.

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“Your odds are the same if you play yourself or if you play with a bunch of people. They are so astronomical, so it doesn’t really make a difference. You’re better off just buying on your own and not dealing with the stress level,” Kurland said.

But if you must do the office pool, pick one leader, get photo proof of the tickets before the drawings, agree to the lump sum option and be prepared to form an entity or trust.

“They won’t pay out like 100 people, so you’re going to have to form an entity at some level and they’ll pay the entity and the entity can spread it out after that,” Kurland said.

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Susan Ticker of Morristown, New Jersey, has seen a good thing go bad, with too many people involved.

“They would pool their money and no matter how little they won or how much it was always an argument — who had the ticket, who got what,” Ticker said.

Well, that won’t happen to Harvey Berman, who said he is buying his ticket solo.

“Maybe I’ll win it all,” Berman said.

But he also said if winning any amount of money with a group is a problem, that’s an OK problem to have.

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Kurland calculated 30 people winning Friday’s Mega Millions drawing together would stand to make $8 million to $10 million each from the almost $1 billion jackpot, after federal and state taxes get taken out.