March 30th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot

“Never tell me the odds.”
Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back"

Look. We know that you're aware the odds of winning Friday night’s record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot, or any Mega Millions jackpot, are astronomical.

We also know that for the people who win it, the odds matter not one bit. Someone is going to win at least a share of the prize if not Friday, then in some subsequent drawing. But since we’re covering the historic jackpot and showing people in long lines giddily talking about how many cars or yachts or Dippin' Dots they’d buy if they win, we feel compelled to remind you:

It’s not going to be you.

The odds of a ticket winning a Mega Millions jackpot is 175,711,536 to 1. As Han Solo’s talkative robotic friend would tell you, you have a much, much better chance (1 in 3,720!) of navigating an asteroid field successfully. We didn’t exactly vet that, but you know you’d smash your ship into the rocks. And who are we to question protocol droids fluent in more than 6 million forms of communication?

To hammer home the point, here are a few other unlikely scenarios that, we’re sorry to say, are far more likely than you taking home a jackpot.

From the Harvard School of Public Health:

Chances of dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

Chance you will be die from being struck by lightning: 1 in 3 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Chance of having conjoined twins: 1 in 200,000. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:

The chance of an amateur golfer making a hole in one on a par-3 hole is about 1 in 12,500. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

The chance of a golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:

 The chance of hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely, is 1 in 6,267. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the National Weather Service:

The chance of being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics in 2000:

Chance of drowning and other beach-related fatalites: 1 in 2 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

Chance of being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

What are the odds you will win? Weigh in below, or on Twitter using #whataretheodds.

soundoff (1,701 Responses)
  1. scotsguyntx

    If it costs a $1 per ticket does this mean if I borrow $175,712,000 and cover every possible combination of numbers I'm guaranteed to win??? and the return is $640m??? hmmmmseems a good investment. anyone willing lend me a couple of hundred million???

    March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      There are a few problems with your strategy. First, you don't get to pick your numbers, so you will end up with lots of duplicate and triplicate tickets while some number combinations are missing entirely. Second, if there are several other people who win, you have to split the prize with them, which can cause you to come out behind. Third, don't forget that a huge portion of your winnings will be lost to income tax.

      By the way, you would also have a very arduous task of finding winning tickets, although I guess we can ignore this problem.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nunuv Yurbiz

      Yes, you would win, but someone else may also, in which case you share the pot. After taxes and present value, you'd have to be the only winner to make money. If anyone else also won, it would take your net below $175 million.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beebs

      That would be true if you are the only winner. Say 5 people win then you have just lost a lot of money

      March 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sorry about your luck

      It would be nice if that were the case. The numbers you mention are just the odds. Unfortunately there are more like 16 billion different combinations. Anyone have 16 billion you can borrow? Good luck!

      March 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hawkechik

    Look, it's a whole dollar, barely the price of a cup of coffee these days. Of course the odds of winning *are* astronomical. But I can pretty much guarantee you that you won't win if you don't buy a ticket.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Howard Brutta

    All I have to say -Life is short –play hard and play your odds !

    March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Nitin Gupta

    Think it this way..there are only 2 possible outcomes WIN or LOOSE...so chaces of winning are 50%...

    March 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Nitin failed math.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Poor thing. You really don't understand odds.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • limayo

      Yep that was my thinking too and I spent a whole $2 to back it up!

      March 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Summer

    So to the person who is reading this article now and actually wins. What do you say to them? IDIOT.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JimboBillyBob Justice

    To the author of this article I say "BITE ME"
    I spent my 20$
    One of my 20 tickets IS the winner....why do you think I bought them?

    March 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Karaya

    Oh, please, enough with these condescending lectures!... People are not idiots, they know the odds and they are doing it just for kicks. If you think of it from this perspective, buying a $5 worth of lottery tickets is much more rational behavior than spending few hundreds bucks for seeing some baseball game – from which you _guaranteed_ to have _nothing_!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Summer

      A few hundred bucks to see a baseball game? What planet do you live on?

      March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brad

    It's really too bad that the only statistic in this story that isn't useless is the lottery odds. I am male. I have an infinitely better chance of winning the lottery than having conjoined twins. How about the beach and shark statistic? There are MILLIONS of people who will never even see a beach. So, their chance of winning is also infinitely higher. Listen, we know the odds against us winning the lottery are astronomical but fluffing a story with meaningless statistics doesn't drive the point home, it just causes ignorant people to walk around spouting off stupid figures all day.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Portland tony

    What's the odds of making $600M in a lifetime if you don't buy a ticket?

    March 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Maybe_Me

    Sure the odds are astronomical, but like the article says, the odds don't matter to the one person who wins. I used to be a regular lotto player (just buying a single $1 ticket for each drawing, in VA we have what's called a "season ticket" where you can buy an entire year's worth of tickets in one shot, automatically having $1 in each drawnig), but never bothered renewing my subscription when it expired. I will admit that today I bought $20 worth of tickets, just for the heck of it.

    Maybe you'll see me on the home page next week.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Amy

    I don't care what anyone says, everyone who plays has a 50/50 chance of winning. You either win it...or you don't!

    Best way to look at everything! :)

    March 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      *ignorant way to look at everything.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      That's a dangerous way of looking at everything.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary Schneider

    Don't burst my bubble – it could be me!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Larry

    What are the odds you'll lose if you don't play? 1:1 Why not give it a shot? Someone HAS to win eventually. Only way to guarantee it won't be me is to not play.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. TonightsWinner

    I'll take those odds!!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. thinkoutsidethebox

    why does the author feel the need to remind people they won't win? everyone knows the odds, why rub it in their facecs even more? it seems the author is a bitter, self-righteous, cermudgeon. sheesh! write about something else, like ayn rand and your thoughts on objectivism- that would be a lot more interesting!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dude

      Maybe the author is sick of seeing sad people spend half their unemployment check to scribble away at squares on lottery tickets.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.