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. Zorg

    This is a bit illogical in the sense of all posted scenarios. Of course there is a higher possibility of getting attacked by a shark, but contrary to that, how many people ACTUALLY go into the water? Or getting struck by lightning; how many people actually stand outside in the rain even decide to come outside at all during a storm? How many of those in the world's population are actually pregnant at the moment or are even females expected to conceive soon?

    They're non comparable simply because more than half the population has bought a lottery ticket in the past month and therefore is eligible to take their chances. This presents the REAL population chances of actually winning the lottery compared to any other given situation that only involves small samples of actual participants.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    100,000,000 people will ensure at least one person will be arrested for use of crack cocain, blow money for insane things while saying they give tro charity, and buy what?...of course..more tickets. :)

    March 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Haha

    Thank god for the Florida Museum of Natural History. Sounds like you did some really impressive research for this article haha. I hope you buy a ticket and win so you can retire from writing.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kent Lee

    Don't you folks worry. If I win this jackpot tonight I will send everyone in US a check. Of course that will take me 28 years to do so. Pls be patience.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shane

    The comments here from the idiots who need to remind us of the odds are ridiculous. Stop quoting things that are way above your head. I think it's safe to say that after the many years the lottery's been around, we all know the odds and yes, they are not in your favor, but the fact is, someone will eventually win because they will continue raising the pot until someone hits it. And to that person or persons, it doesn't matter one lick what the odds are/were. The fact is: Someone will win, or in the language of the idiots: Lighting will strike while you're hitting a hole in one and getting stung by a bee.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Texdawg62

    what an idiotic post. Do you really think that people that buy this think they have a good chance. It is just a bit of fun. Good lord, what is your motive? Stupid.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Craig

    This is a dumb article because you CANNOT apply group probabilities to individuals. Think about it, the sample size is 1. Meaningless. Saying "Chance you will die from being struck by lightning: 1 in 3 million" is absolutely meaningless. What is really being said is that of 3 million people we can say that 1 will get hit by lightning. You can't invert that and say your chances are 1 in 3 million. There are too many variables that affect the chance YOU will get hit to be able to calculate it.

    All you can say is that you will either win or lose (or hit or not hit). No numbers attached.

    Tell past winners that they had such a slim chance of winning...

    March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzzkill

      there are a finite number of number combinations which one could buy. Only one combination wins. 1 in 175M. Them are the odds.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Grateful Dom

    Face it, whoever wrote this article is bitter because their significant other is cheating on them. What a downer.

    March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DaveinPA

    LOTS of people will win SOMETHING.... something is good enough for me

    March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Buzzkill

    You tell 'em! But despite this little shake of reality, those least able to afford the tickets will pour their needed dollars into hopeless tickets and then buy ramen noodles for dinner.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cate

    Sometimes it's not about winning. It's about participating. I'll gladly give my $2 for a ticket. It's a shot. It's just fun to be a part of it. Who knows, it could be you.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sistersolja

    The author must be a born loser... WHEN I win – I will laugh at this article... He will keep on being a loser... It's quite sad.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Haha

    Oh and for the record – the odds of crashing into an asteroid in any asteroid field even remotely similar to the ones we are know of is extreeeeemely low. Those things are spaced out hundreds of thousands of miles apart. Basically this whole article is nonsense.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Up2Late

    And even though the odds are 1:175.7 million, the odds are 0:175.7 million if you don't play. Now if I can just find 175,699,999 people to throw in a buck a piece, our odds get a whole lot better.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grant

    Hey CNN....shut up and let me dream. Thanks

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