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. Doc

    Stop hating! Someone will win. Why discourage us from trying.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 7thSouth

    From the Department of Duh Statistics:

    Chances SOMEONE will win, 100%. For me, regardless of any other statistics (which is a measure of probabilities; i.e. CHANCE) I know someone will win, like they said at the beginning of this article. Trying to use deductive reasoning which deals in truths and facts attempting to postulate more facts (the complete opposite of chance) is tantamount to making a self-fulfilling prophecy. For someone, the odds are very, very, VERY good! Here's to hoping I'm that guy ;)

    March 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Actually, there is not a 100% chance someone will win. How do you think the jackpot got so high? Nobody won. Statistically, it's possible the jackpot will never be won.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gonna Win

      Totally agree. Odds are just that... Odds (mere calculations to tell you that the winner's dollar was spent better than 175 million others). Don't be a hater.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      I'm excited there's a 1 in 176 million chance I don't have to go to work on Monday!

      March 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rhr

    I have just as much chance as the winner, thats if I buy a ticket.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jackson

    Get a ticket, hope for the best, and "may the odds be ever in your favor"

    March 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marites

      Clever way of putting this!

      March 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Derpa

    Thank you Buzz Killington, but if $1 is all it takes to have a few days/hours of giddy excitement daydreaming about the possibility...so be it.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. navychick

    What are the odds that the author bought a ticket???

    March 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Robert

    This article is crushing my dreams right now =(

    March 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. limayo

    Nobody buys these tickets because the odds are in their favor! So I agree with the 50% win/lose odds...I may have not done well in gaming math, but I did excellent in fun...and I got my list ready, top if it is I'm ordering a Tesla!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. karl

    i have been struck by lightning so there!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. bronxmom

    The way I see it, the odds are 50/50. Either you win or you don't

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sally

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but you were betting the odds that the winner would not be reading your Debbie Downer article. Well, I'm here to write you that, I AM! I read it and i will be one of the multiple winners in tonights drawing!!
    Just you wait Mr Higgins, just you wait!! (my fair lady)

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. U so crazy

    Someone will win. Might as well be me. I promise to do nice things with a couple million.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Pat F

    Two points.

    Firstly, I LOVE the lottery, or as it is more commonly known, the idiot tax.

    Secondly, I disagree with the Hawaii/deer statistic. The chances of me hitting a deer in Hawaii are zero because I have never been to Hawaii. So it is really close to the Mega millions figure.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rich

    Someone will win – might as well be me!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Katie

    I had to stand in line behind several people yesterday who spent ten or twenty dollars on these lottery tickets. Some of them bought other lottery tickets as well, all of them chattering excitedly about what they'd do with the money. One person asked her friend how much money she spent a year on lottery tickets and how much money she'd ever won – she admitted she spent "a dollar or two" every day on lottery tickets and had once made twenty-five bucks on an instant ticket. (No one pointed out that $365-730/ year for $25 didn't seem like a wise way to spend money.) The sad reality is that most people just don't have that kind of money to throw away but they do it anyway. They'll buy a candy bar (or a pack of cigarettes) and use most of the change for lottery tickets and walk away with only the candy bar or cigarettes to show for it. At the end of the month (or sometimes the pay period) they're making decisions about which bill they need to pay right now and which can wait, and wondering which credit card is not yet back up to its limit so they can use it for groceries or gas. Think about those odds – 1 rich person, 175,711,536 people who are wasting their money. Which one are you?

    March 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jules

      I'm going to be the "1" very rich person. *smile*

      March 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Save Us Jeebus!

      Well, Katie, you definitely won't win if you don't play. I agree people shouldn't be spending the grocery money on lottery tix, but playing every now and again with a few dollars isn't going to kill anyone. Lighten up.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      My dad owned a deli and his friend offered to put in a poker machine. They would each split half of the money the poker machine brought in. My dad made 10's of thousands of dollars off of just one poker machine. One day a guy he knew came in and decided to sit down at the poker machine. The man put his whole paycheck into the machine. This was a man who had no money, had very little food, a wife and three kids. It took this to make him realize what the lottery and gambling does to people. The next day he threw the poker machine in the dumpster. He ended up losing his business because that's where a lot of his money ended up coming from. My dad always felt horrible about what that poker machine did to people. The lottery isn't any different.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve427

      You have just described the average persons spending habits. What is your point other than being as silly as the writer of this 'article'? Your not going to change the person who buys lottery tickets. It's a form of entertainment if you look at it realistically. A person could just as easily go to the movies every week and easily drop $10-20. And at least half the time the movie probably sucks. A lot of people go play at the bingo or casino if you want to make the argument about just gambling. People go and often lose. But most get something out of it. Some people like hanging out in the casino or bingo halls. Who cares? Maybe they don't mind being behind on the phone bill. Who cares? It's not for your to say. I seriously wouldn't be worrying about someone who is only spending $1-2 a day

      March 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mi

      Who cares about the odds! It's fun to dream and why not, the winner could be any of us. Enjoy and good luck to all of you! :)

      March 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
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