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For Christmas, or for your birthday, you get presents. Presents differ in size - luckily, not all presents are like the home-knit socks your grandmother gave you or that cute drawing of a horse you got from your niece. Some presents are bigger, like a tv or a new computer. And then there are presents that are a lot bigger than anything else you will ever get – a car, or a trip around the world. And then... There are presents that are so large that you cannot comprehend their size at all. Those are the kind of presents that the Euromillions give out. Read on to discover just how rich some lucky Europeans can become from playing the transnational lottery.

Eurowhat?

No, this is not some unknown branch of the European Financial Stability Facility you've never heard of before, though, with their staggering jackpots, the EFSF might want to consider buying a ticket or two as an untraditional solution to the continent's debt crisis. The Euromillions is a transnational, European lottery that is drawn twice a week. It's based in the UK but residents of France, Spain, Austria, Beligum, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Switzerland can also play. In other words, the Euromillions is a force of luck to be reckoned with in a large part of Western Europe. A ticket is usually €2, so everyone has the opportunity to get lucky, European style. While many national lotteries are only drawn once a week, the Euromillions are twice as often and often feature prizes that the national lotteries will never be able to match.

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Photo: Magnus D (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Tickets bought, now the waiting game has begun.

What's the catch?

This all seems nice and lovely, but let me tell you a secret: the lottery makes money. A lot of money. Camelot, the operators of Euromillions, make a 0.5% profit from the lottery each year. 0.5%, you say?! That's nothing! Well, when one single prize can amount to as much as €180,000,000, and the lottery is drawn 104 times a year, you can imagine that the owners of the lottery are grinning all the way to the bank as much as the winners are. The rest of the earnings from the lottery are divided between the different expenses of the lottery: 50% goes back into the players' pockets, 28% is given to Good Causes (which is then distributed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports) and the rest is used to pay retailers and various lottery taxes. So every time you put €2 into the Euromillions, only €1 is being paid back to the players of the lottery. I'm not telling you this to put you off playing, it's just a fact. And with many, many people playing every week all over Europe, one lucky bastard might just be happy he made that €2 investment.

So... Just how eurorich can you get?

In summer 2011, Colin and Chris Weir, a couple living in a village not far from Glasgow, were the single winners of a massive €185,000,000 draw, making them the 430th richest people in the UK, ranking just behind David and Victoria Beckham. This was the highest prize to be given out to one single ticket, though prizes, if the jackpot rolls several times, have gone beyond €100,000,000 in the past. In this sense, it is much more profitable to play the Eurolottery than the national lotteries, which rarely have prizes in such a range. However, big prizes come at a cost: it is not possible for the prizes to reach such a high level unless the odds of winning are slim. And when I say slim, I mean really slim. Basically, the odds of winning the jackpot is in the area of 1 in 116,531,800...

So really, the question you need to ask yourself before joining the lottery is: do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?!

Thumbnail photo: European Central Bank (PD)

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