However, for purposes of this discussion, we will assume that 200 million Mega Million tickets were sold for that drawing.
Since our ticket sale estimate is well above the total number of allowable Mega Millions combinations (175.7 million), one can logically ask:
The answer is: Duplicates!
Because of randomness, the percent of duplicate tickets increases rapidly as the number of tickets are sold. In Mega Millions, this increase begins to level off after sales exceed 400 million. As the illustration below shows, approximately 40% of the combinations printed are duplicates when 200 million individual tickets are sold.
Given the fact that the new Mega Millions annuity jackpot is set at $476 million for Friday night, we can expect ticket sales to potentially reach or exceed 300 million. At this level, about 52% of these tickets will be duplicate combinations, and there will be an 18% chance that there will be no Jackpot winner at all.
So, getting to our title question:
The answer depends on how you purchase them. If you purchase every single unique combination, then Yes, you are guaranteed to win the Jackpot. In this case, there will be no losing tickets. However, you have to worry about sharing the jackpot prize with others. Using Graph 1 above, we can say that at the 300 million ticket sales level, you have 50 - 50 chance of winning it alone or sharing it with one or more others.
If you take the Cash Option, you will lose money if you have to share it with 1 other person.
And, if you take the Annuity, you lose money if you share it with 2 others.
However, if you are lazy and just buy 175.7 million Quick Picks, you are not guaranteed to win the jackpot. As stated above, approximately 40% of these will be duplicates and you will have a 31.4% chance of losing.
The last thing to remember is that you will have to pay taxes on the money you receive. If you win the jackpot, you will be in the highest tax bracket possible, which means that you will be paying 28% to the federal government.Then, depending on the State where you purchased your winning ticket and live, you may have to pay state taxes as well.