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. Shane

    If you buy 50 tickets for each drawing (i.e., two per week), then you will win the lotter, on average, once every 34,000 years. Good luck! I have my tickets.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Meki60

    I know, but its fun. You could buy a controlling interest in a real company with that kind of money.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ant928

      Actually I did a little thng on that yesterday for a co-worked when it was only $540MM. According to my calculations....for a married couple in NJ with the only winning ticket the estimated payout would allow (among other things):

      • You could be a 5% shareholder in Dunkin' Donuts
      • You could become a 12% shareholder in Lions Gate Entertainment or Domino's Pizza
      • You could become a 20% shareholder of the ENTIRE Ann Taylor Chain
      • You could become a 13% shareholder of the entire Saks Fifth Avenue chain
      • You could handle the ENTIRE team payroll for the NY Yankees…and still have $45,876,832.90 left over
      • You could BUY 25% of the net worth of the Green Bay Packers including the stadium, brand name, merchandising rights…

      Yeah…take a minute to digest all that…

      March 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

    I'm here to dispell a few of the stupid thoughts running around this board.

    "Somebody has to win! So why not me?"
    No, nobody has to win. Statistically, there may never be a winner. Unlikely, but possible.

    "Why doesn't somebody just buy 175 million tickets? You'd make a bunch of money!"
    Bad idea. What if somebody else happens to pick the winning combination? Then you just lost a crapload of money. Plus, it would take you decades to actually pick out every number combination. Have fun with that.

    "The odds are 50/50. I will win or I will lose."
    This is so dumb. If this is the case, if you buy two tickets you will be the winner.

    That being said. It is only a dollar so spend it and get your entertainment out of it. Dream big and good luck!

    March 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      If you bought two tickets, the odds of winning on either ticket are 50/50; and, even having both tickets, you stand to win or lose on either one or both.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ram Narayanan

    Odds of being a stupid j-e-r-k writing stupid articles on CNN.....1 in 1. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million.

    The information content in the above story is zero, according to Shannon's theory.

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

      This article was in fact, a waste.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Who Cares?

    Most people know this, but it's just the possibility! Lighten up. Someone has to win, why not me?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Satan

    Lottery = tax for being poor

    March 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ant928

    Chances I'm going to slap each of these reporters in the mouth for runing my mood...1 to 1.

    I agree with above...do I want to win? Yes. Will I? Probably not. Does the $10/month for the pool I'm in kill me? No. Did I think my pool was going to win $10,000 for hitting five numbers back in December? No...but we DID! So who knows?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joey

    but everyone who takes part has a 50/50 chance.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JKB75

    As long as you don't spend your rent/mortgage/bill money on some tickets, go have some fun! Someone's got to win...why not me? Or you?

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

      I agree... somebody or bodies have to win

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

    Can't win if you don't play. . .

    March 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rodroderick

    what are the odds CNN will actually report news worth reading?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      I'd probably win the lottery before that happens and I didn't even buy a ticket.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. H2

    spend $5 on a cup of coffee that picks you up for a few hours or 5$ on a long shot chance at a large some of money that allows you to daydream for 3 days. I will take the lottery ticket and enjoy my fleeting happy thoughts.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 033012

    Yeah, this article stinks. What if the person who reads it wins. It says "you won't win" A killjoy for the players who are hoping to be that one in a bajillion. CNN sucks. I only clicked on it during my lunch break to see if they are still pounding the racial crappola and ringing it for all its worth, and sure enough they are. I bought my 5 dollar quick pick by the way. T ake your negativity and shove it.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Odss, schmodds, it happens to somebody

    What are the odds of being shot and killed by a Mexican in a gated community?

    March 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris Ritchie

    Yes, we may not win! But like a few other posts have said – You can not win if you don't have a ticket AND it IS fun to think about what you would do if it was you!!! Yes, I will most likely be disappointed when it wasn't me that won tonight. But there will be another jack-pot later and another change to think about if it was me. Have a great weekend everyone...! Here is to thinking about beaches, sun, and fun... 8o)

    March 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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