You didn’t win the lottery

Nobody in the news business will admit to writing headlines ahead of time. But this one was easy.

It looks like a winning ticket was sold in Maryland, and perhaps elsewhere. But no Californian matched that magically fickle group of numbers, including a quirky “Mega” number — 23 — that matched another number in the five-number sequence.

As of the wee hours on Saturday morning, the rest of us with crappy, horrible numbers are still waiting for a person or group to come forward and claim responsibility for hitting the unprecedented $640 million jackpot.

Despite the astronomical probability of losing, dubious funding benefits, and regressive taxing effect on the poor, state-sponsored lotteries have continually sought the spotlight with mammoth jackpots and frenzied ticket-buying.

Next time you stand in line for that Mega Millions sure-fire winner, ask yourself why all lotteries work in the same way, picking the numbers after all the tickets have been purchased and the numbers tallied.

Imagine a lottery that very publicly and dramatically picked all six numbers — in advance. They would be put on display and shrouded from the public. Only three people of the utmost trust would be allowed to see them: The President, the Pope and maybe Steven Tyler.

After this public-yet-secret unveiling, the frenzied buying would be geared toward matching the numbers — which would then be publicly “revealed” instead of “drawn,” as it is now.

Do you think the outcome might be different?