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. Kindasorta

    I donated my dollar to the cause last night. I've only done this maybe less than 20 times since it became available in my area. I know it's a waste of time and my valuable dollar, but I decided to have a dollar dream. I can still dream. If I am to actually win, the shock will probably kill me.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. shadow

    You see there is the problem with society today- we get slapped by reality so much we forgot, or are expressly told not to, DREAM!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JoBair

    The writer of this article is just trying to increase their odds of winning by talking others out of buying a ticket :-)

    March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      That doesn't increase your odds. If you bought a ticket, you have the same odds no matter how many people play. Man, our school systems have failed.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      If no one but you buys a ticket, your odds still aren't any better of winning. You have the same chance you did before of matching the numbers...

      March 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.

      Yeah. When you're selecting a certain number of numbers, your odds of selecting the correct numbers is the same no matter how many tickets are sold. The odds are determined mathematically based on the number of digits you must chose, the range you have to choose from (1 – 9, 1 – 30, 1 – 99, etc), whether you can repeat numbers, plus any additional requirements - ie., you must choose six but select another as a "mega" number makes the odds against you winning much greater than if you just had to choose seven. So, the odds would be the same even if you were the only one playing. The difference in more people buying tickets would be that if more people buy, the odds that more than one might win may increase, and hence, you would have to share the prize. However, the odds of you choosing the correct the numbers will be the same, regardless of how many people play.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. godol

    Yeah, but if you buy two tickets, the odds are only 87.85 million to 1. And if you buy three tickets...

    March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • North

      Ah, no. If you bought 2 tickets, the odds are 2 in 175.6 million. You didn't do well in math, did you?

      March 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jo jo

      What you do when buying a ticket is not betting against all the other players, that isn't what makes the odds. You are betting against the combination of numbers. So, when you buy a ticket you are betting the chances of that one ticket containing all the right combination of numbers will win. You are buying a 'chance' that you will win. The more tickets you buy will not change the odds, but, may increase your chance of winning.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jo jo

    No matter what the 'odds are', the chance of winning is 50/50. Either you win, or you don't.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alan

    Odds of someone winning the lottery who read this article.... ?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. roy

    Chances of winning if you plae 1 in 175.7 million. Cahnces of winning if you don't O. You miss 100% of every shots you don't take...

    March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tendres

    Yes it's a very very very small BUT NON-ZERO chance.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DeeNYC

    People are taking this article too serious.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim Ciampa

    He's right guys: it won't be you. Now me, on the other hand. .

    March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NyCforLife

    "So you're telling me I have a chance!!!"

    March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john

    question...if the jackpot is more than thae odds, why can't some billionaire buy out all the combinations?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoBair

      Because billionaires don't have to buy lottery tickets. If I already have $1B dollars, why would I spend it just to get my money back?

      March 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Because if somebody else stumbles upon the winning combination, that billionaire just lost a crapload of money having to split the jackpot.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • unknown

      if two other billionares do the same thing, and one lucky schmuck wins with their $1, that billionaire is suddenly out $13 million.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Because

      Some lotteries are not set up to massive numbers of tickets via electronic purchase, and it woud be impractical to do it manually. That said, an Australian venture capital was able to do just what you are suggesting a few years ago, and it paid off because they didn't have to split. But the risk is, you might have to slpit.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roy

    Chances of winning if you play 1 in 175.7 million, chances of winning if you don't 0. You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glenn

    "You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?"
    Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million."
    "So you're telling me there's a chance."
    - Lloyd and Mary in Dumb & Dumber

    If the odds were good the amount of money wouldn't get up to 2/3 of a billion would it ? Look its more of an event . Who wouldn't be quite happy with a small fraction of the jackpot . I would have spent the three tix I bought on a 40 oz beer after work instead anyway . No loss .

    March 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric H.

    I find it quite arrogant and of fowl disposition to hear a representative of a state lottery make light of what possibilities there are of winning this phenomenally large payout. Certainly, your chances and slim, but yes, someone has to win… If this is not true, is she alluding to something being unfair, and/or dishonest in the very makeup of the lottery? If so, maybe she needs to expound a bit more of what the rest of us need to know. It is the very idea of winning something this spectacular that keeps all of us who play coming back, ultimately paying this person’s salary, and making it all happen in the first place. I would sternly suggest that this person change her occupation to that of selling insurance. At least then she would be telling the truth about payouts and your chances there of!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      You're wrong, someone doesn't have to win. If noone picks the correct numbers, nobody wins.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • james hunter

      your just about goofy! it's an attempt to calm the frenzied masses speaking of how they willl spend their millions. just because you took a dictionary and found some big words to fluff your own feather doesn't mean you have any point at all, especially in the sense that you think there is any implications of cheating! YOUR AN IDIOT!!!

      March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • edeveryday

      Exactly, what a party-pooper she is. What you are buying for your 5 or 10 bucks is the "chance" of winning and what ever thrill that gives you. It's just the excitement of "being in the game" that you are buying for your money. If you win well that's the bonus. It's like playing cards or sports or any other game, you don't always have to win to have fun.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Godless

      james hunter wrote: "your just about goofy! it's an attempt to calm the frenzied masses speaking of how they willl spend their millions. just because you took a dictionary and found some big words to fluff your own feather doesn't mean you have any point at all, especially in the sense that you think there is any implications of cheating! YOUR AN IDIOT!!!"

      You don't understand grammar. Or irony.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
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