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. Fred

    I love it when someone -especially the "news" compares the odds of something totally unrelatable like the chances of being attacked by a shark. Well, if you put the same amount of people in the ocean that will buy tickets....watch the odds of being attacked by a shark drop. If you put as many amateur golfers on a 3-par hole as there are ticket buyers for the mega lottery....again watch the odds drop. if you have as many people being struck by lightning as those who buy tickets....again the odds drop --you get my point.

    I have a better chance of winning the mega millions than reading your next article.

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

      Actually the odds stay the same. The frequency of the event will increase.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • la

      Lighten up...it was funny.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freddy

      Thanks for being another sucker to buy lottery tickets and lowering my taxes. The odds for the lottery are irrefutable (accurate). The odds for being bit by a shark is based on the past, and doesn't matter anyhow – it does not affect the odds of the lottery. Funny the silly mental games people play to justify giving in to their emotions – that's what smart/wealthy people prey on...a fool and his money are soon departed. Instead of spending $20 * 52 = $100 per year on lottery tickets, buy any random stock. Dell went up 1000 times in the 90's, so you'd have $1 million form your $1k investment. Dell was a known company in the very early 90's, so it's not a stretch to say you could have bought shares of Dell in 1990. Look at Apple – it's skyrocketed.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • DP

      Your logic is wrong. The odds do not change for YOU in any of those scenarios. It doesn't matter how many people golf, what matters are the odds of you individually making a hole-in-one.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • moneymoneyMONAAAAY

      LMAO!!

      March 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Fred- you seem not to understand probability theory. The odds are the same for each individual in every case you mentioned. The number participating is completely irrelevant.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Logically Optimistic

    Chances of me winning if I don't purchase a ticket: $0
    Chances of me winning if I do purchase a ticket: >$0
    Cost of a venti dark roast as Starbucks $2.51
    Cost of me buying a ticket: $1
    I took the chance on burning my tongue and turning in my resignation today - I'd do it again too.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Vincent

      Chances aren't presented in dollars, idiot. They are presented as a %.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Seay

      Logically Optimistic said:
      "Chances of me winning if I don't purchase a ticket: $0
      Chances of me winning if I do purchase a ticket: >$0"

      There's a $50 chance that you don't know that probability is displayed in percentages instead of dollars.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Walker

    The chance of CNN proof reading their "journalistic articles"? Zero

    March 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dee Vee

    NEVER tell me the odds!

    March 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cory

    What a Debbie Downer...you really wrote a depressing article because people are giddy and excited about a dream... that is POSSIBLE. Someone has to win, that is the bottom line. It's comepletely harmless for the majority of people. STFU!

    March 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • MissJay

      Well Said!!!

      March 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phat Phanny (oac)

    Eye vill vin ze muny. Und ven eye dew, eye vill cho yew awl vhat eet cud dew 2 yew.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    The odds of any of these things happening to me TODAY are worse than me winning the lottery TODAY. You are using odds that span over a person's entire lifetime. Most of these are impossible to happen to me today.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freddy

      Get real, you have basically ZERO chance of winning. How anyone you know won? Of course not. I know 1000's of people, yet none of them have won. I have a coworker who has been hit multiple times by lightning though!

      March 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Vanessa

    Who cares!? Chances are if you dont play you will not win! Obviously its going to be someone and that someone may be ME!!!!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Quant

    This is pretty stupid article, especially, the odds are Someone who bought the ticket, whether today or even if the jackpot keeps growing, will win eventually. So using a byline "You're not going to win" is false because Someone has to. So what's the writer's retort to the person who actually wins, "oh wait, you didn't win" Retarded.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Oh for Pete's sake!

    The best way to view this is to buy a ticket for the fun of it, realizing you most certainly won't win. But, at least you have a better chance than everyone who doesn't buy one! And if by some miraculous stroke of a wand you win, THEN plan all the things you will do with it. I think some people plan so hard and hope so much, that not winning becomes a deep disappointment. Treat it as a lark.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. B

    When the winning ticket come out... and it will be mine... but for arguments sake, let's say it's not... my chances of having won, are the exact same as the person who did... for a couple bucks, it's worth the risk

    March 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freddy

      Only worth it if it entertains you (and you can TRULy (ie you don't get food stamps; not behing on your bills, your house is not falling apart; etc) afford it). Obviously (i hope it's obvious to all of you) the lottery cannot and does not lose money. It pays out less than it takes in, so it is not mathmatically or financially "worth it".

      March 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CMS

    I say let peole dream. I spent 10.00. Has been a fun week hearing all my staff talking about how they would share the money with everyone.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marion

    Chance that this article is a stupid waste of online space? 1 chance in 1.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Erik

    They left out their assumption that you will only play the Mega Millions lottery once in your lifetime and it will only for 1 ticket.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    Odds of me buying more than one ticket and slightly increasing my odds 1:1

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