The economy may be stuck in a rut, but there’s one thing that’s selling at record-breaking levels: Lottery tickets. In fact, ticket sales have reached all-time highs in 24 states, including Minnesota, Virginia, Kentucky and Iowa. 

Experts have repeatedly said that buying lottery tickets is a huge waste of money. Why? Because your odds of winning are vanishingly small. Take the Mega Millions lottery - the odds of winning are 175 million to one. Meaning, you’re 35,000 times more likely to hit a hole in one than to win! 

So, with such horrible odds, why do so many of us play the lottery? 

For one thing, it’s a cheap thrill. After all, where else can you dream big, and maybe get a multimillion dollar return on a $2 investment? 

Also, people are more willing to part with money they really can’t spare when they’re desperate, and hope that a big windfall will solve all their problems, and put them on easy street. 

If you’re still determined to play the lottery, here are a couple of takeaways: 

First: If it costs $2 to play, don’t spend more than $2 a week, because buying 10 tickets, or 100 tickets, or even 1,000 tickets won’t significantly increase your odds of winning.

And choose your numbers wisely, because if you beat the odds and win big, picking the numbers that other people avoid can drastically increase the odds that you’ll have the only winning ticket. Statistics show that people tend to pick odd numbers more often than even ones. Lottery players also tend to pick favorite numbers, which are usually small, and birthdays, which only go up to 31. But the Mega Millions numbers can go as high as 56. 

That said, playing the lottery is still the biggest instance of “buyer beware.”