Tonight's Powerball jackpot — rolled over 16 times since October 6 — has reached $550 million, and officials think there's a 75 percent chance that the winning numbers will be drawn tonight.

Your numbers won't be among them. You won't win the lottery. But that's a good thing. Here's why.

Someone will sue you for it.

A group of McDonald's employees last month filed a civil lawsuit against a co-worker they say defrauded the Maryland Lottery to avoid having to split the $656 million fortune with them.

It'll get stolen from you.

Jack Whittaker, the cowboy-hat-wearing West Virginia contractor who scored a $315 million Powerball win in December 2002 [...] pledged to give 10 percent of his fortune to charity. But legal and personal problems took a heavy toll, and he started hitting the sauce and hanging out at sleazy jiggle joints. Just eight months after his big score, he was robbed of $545,000 in a strip club.

You will probably be murdered...

Then one day [Abraham Shakespeare] bought a quick-pick Florida lottery ticket. And he won, taking the $17 million cash payout. [...] Within two years, he was down to just $3.5 million. And then he met Dee Dee Moore. Hillsborough County detectives and prosecutors say Moore bamboozled Shakespeare under the pretense of writing a book about his life story. Instead, she's accused of finagling Shakespeare to sign over his remaining assets to her and then killing him.

...or you will murder someone yourself.

Within two years after winning his fortune, in 1989, [Willie] Hurt found himself divorced, penniless and charged with killing a woman over crack cocaine.

You will spend it all on drugs...

[Callie] Rogers, 22, scooped £1.9million when she hit the jackpot in 2003 at the age of 16 and went on a never-ending spending spree. [...] She told the News of the World: "In the past six years I have sunk into a black hole - a black hole that at one point I thought I could never crawl out of. I was spending a fortune on cocaine, a nasty evil drug that tears your life apart. I'll be honest, about a quarter of a million pounds of my win has been wasted on it."

...or hookers...

After winning, [Michael Carroll] used his money on drugs, gambling, and "thousands of prostitutes" only to end up back on the dole after eight years of living the Lotto life [...] loss of £100,000 over eight years in payments to prostitutes, among other rather grave financial mistakes.

...or bad investments...

When [William "Bud"] Post won $16.2 million in the lottery, his siblings persuaded him to make bad investments that left him $1 million in debt and living off social security checks at the time of his death.

...or just gamble it away.

"Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be," says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. [...] "I was a big time gambler," admits Adams. "I didn't drop a million dollars, but it was a lot of money. I made mistakes, some I regret, some I don't. I'm human. I can't go back now so I just go forward, one step at a time."

Our suggestion? Instead of playing the lottery, just pretend you won it. For a week.

The Maryland Mega-nut who insists she won a record Mega Millions jackpot now says she's lost the winning ticket - but isn't breaking a sweat looking for it. [...] The Haitian immigrant set off an international frenzy after telling The Post she had one of three winning tickets in last Friday's record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. If her claim proved legit, Wilson would score an after-tax, lump sum prize of $105 million, or $5.59 million a year for 26 years. At first, she claimed to have the ticket herself before changing her story to say it was in a safe place at an undisclosed location. Then on Tuesday she stunned her colleagues at the fast-food joint by saying she'd hidden the elusive ticket somewhere in the suburban Baltimore McDonald's. Yesterday, she sounded strangely serene despite the ticket's mystifying disappearance - leaving her fate to faith.

[art by Jim Cooke]