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. Susan

    Does anyone know the odds of being attacked by a polar bear and a regular bear in the same day?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marc

      1 in 213, 375, 613.46. Duh.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • muablog

      Dwight Shrute knows. :)

      March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobR

      Better than winning the lottery.

      If you'll excuse me now, I have to go buy tickets.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mukesh

      LOL.. good one. still laughing...

      March 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I was attacked by a bipolar bear once. It was very aggressive at first, but then it calmed down near the end of the attack.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      The one about the bipolar bear has left me uncontollably laughing with tears in my eyes.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Burbank

    Someone has to win eventually and it only takes 1 ticket! – The right one!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sweetness

      I agree. How can the article say it "won't" be you. I could be. Fine, I understand the odds thing but there's a chance. It's not a zero % chance, unless I didn't buy a ticket, but I did. Also, I've been struck by lightning when I was a kid and bit by a sand shark, so don't give me that stuff about odds. What's the odds of both those happening in a life time? But it happened.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    What are the odds that people who have enough education and connections to make $640 million all by themselves are in line for lottery tickets anyway? I'd say those odds are pretty good.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • 2old2quit

      Sorry, I think they would have someone standing in line for them.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rozzzzzzy

    We know, we know. The odds are against us. But it COULD happen! It's fun to think about winning between now and when the numbers are drawn. So, sure, most of us won't win. But it COULD happen! Stay optimistic! :)

    March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Pam

    Way to bust my bubble.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Barbara

    such a stupid article. does anyone REALLY think they will win? but funny how the next day you hear SOMEONE. somewhere WON IT!! your chances to win HAVE to go up SOME percentage if YOU PLAY IT!! SO.....im goin out now to get my ticket, do i think i will win? no....but whoever else bought the winning ticket, well they dont think so either.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. EricTheEngr

    Wait a second, if the odds are 175,711,536 to1, I should just buy one of every number for $175,711,537. As long as no more than one other ticket hits the jackpot, I should come out way ahead. Now I just need $175,711,537, filled out sheets for all 175,711,537 tickets, and to purchase them all before 7pm. No sweat. Private island, here I come!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lloyd

    "What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?"
    "Well, that's pretty difficult to say."
    "Hit me with it! I've come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?"
    "Not good."
    "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

    March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. woops

    this article is a waste of space

    but leave it to CNN to make it front page news.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Godless

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

    I remember a new station doing a story on this once, where the jackpot was larger than the odds against. The reason it won't work is because the machines can't spit out the tickets fast enough.

    Let's say a machine could spit out 100 unique tickets in a minute (which is possible with quick pic, but remember you need to cover every possible combination). Even at that unlikely number of 100 per minute, that's 6,000 per hour, 144,000 per day (assuming it ran non-stop with no breaks), and there's no more than four days between drawings, so a max of 576,000 tickets (assuming no duplicates). That's still 300 times less than the 1 in 175 million odds that exist. It's just not possible.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mark

    The problem with comparing odds is that some of the things being compared aren't entirely random. My chance of being attacked by a shark may be 1 in 11.5 million, but if I don't go swimming in the ocean or fall into an aquarium containing sharks, my odds are likely less than 1 in 175 million.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Joseph

    If I win I'm going to buy CNN and make the person who wrote this story my personal beotch.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Millie

    Don't you know that the reason there was no winner leading up to this huge jackpot is because I forgot to play those other times.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lionel

    This jackpot could be won, of course its hypothetical. If someone organized 175.7 million lottery players, to buy one ticket each , with one each of the available 175.7 million combinations, then one ticket would definitely win. That person could share the win with the 175.7 players who participated by giving $3.64 million each for their dollar play.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. The Bodacious

    So, if you buy 175,711,536 lotto tickets, are you guaranteed a winning ticket? The answer is no.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CB

      Actually i think the answer is Yes, But if it takes you 5 sec to fill out one ticket it owuld take 28 years to complete every possible number combination.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • loren

      you are guarenteed of winning if you pick each of the combinations. if you go quick picks then no since the odds are almost a sure thing that you would have duplicate entries.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • fixerupper

      The answer is yes. Because, that enough tickets to cover all possible outcomes at drawing time.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
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