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. fixerupper

    Then buy 100 tickets. That improves your odds to 1,757,115 to 1 for the lottery jackpot, which is much better than the odds for many of the other events mentioned.

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

      fixerupper wrote: "Then buy 100 tickets. That improves your odds to 1,757,115 to 1 for the lottery jackpot, which is much better than the odds for many of the other events mentioned."

      You don't understand statistics.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wcb2009

    Odds are only part of the decision to play. The expected value would be ~$3.64. The decision analyst would take this gamble becuase the price of a ticket is less than the EV of the payoff.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Michael

    The odds that someone will win: 1 in 1

    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Wrong, it's statistically possible that nobody will ever win.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      That's not true and terrible math lol.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Yoy.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dougsherman

    This article is incorrect, my odds are 6 in 175.7 million.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gary

    Yes it will be me... I just invested $176 Million... with every possibility covered I am set to make over $400 million after the cash option jackpot payout and all of my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tier winning tickets. Anyone want to help me go through them to find the winning tickets?

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

      Oh man, you better hope that nobody else stumbled upon the winning combination of numbers too or you just lost a crapload of money.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • james hunter

      love your sense of humor GarY!

      March 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    "So, you're telling me there's a chance.......YEAH!" Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber

    March 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Chance of winning with one ticket: 1 in 175 million. Chance of winning if you do not play: zero. I will take odds of 1 in 175 million over zero any time.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. argerich26

    What a mean spirited and nasty article. Let people have fun, fantasize a little about what they would buy, and congratulations to the future winner (who ever that will be). The only thing this article accomplishes is allowing the writer to vent some aggression at people they will never speak to or see. Pretty cowardly if you ask me. Never mind the fact that lottery proceeds (taxes) go to help fund public schools and programs, so that all of us who are going to lose the megamillions actually did some good (unlike the authors of this article).

    March 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Penny Nickels

    I talked to a psychic and she gave me the winning numbers!
    I am going to buy you all a beer tomorrow!!!
    You're welcome.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Glenn Doty

    Odds that buying a ticket will result in dreaming about winning the jackpot: 100%

    It's not about the odds. We're not paying to win. Perhaps there are a few math-challenged people out there that believe that they are buying a ticket in the expectation of winning... but for most of us we get what we pay for: a dream.

    There's not a single male on the planet that hasn't played some form of sport and quietly whispered (or loudly spoke) an announcer voiceover – imagining himself to be playing pro ball with the world focused on his every move... The fact that this isn't going to happen is well known. But we dream about it. The same goes for parents watching their kids do... well... anything.

    But you can't imagine yourself pitching in the big leagues if you aren't pitching a ball. Dreaming about the big score is quite fun... but you can't enjoy that "what if" dream if you don't buy the ticket. That's just how life works. So we pay a buck, or a few bucks, so we can chat with our spouses about what we would or wouldn't do if we suddenly came into a half a billion dollars. It's worth a few lost items from the vending machine.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BCW - NYC

    Hey! I am going to be THE Lottery winner that make history tonight. Yup! That person is ME.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Clifton

    I wonder if the writer of this article bought any tickets.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. debra4messiah

    Her statements are so true, it hurts!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hopeful in the Soo

    odds of not winning the JP 175,711,535 to 175,711,736

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