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. Leo

    Yes, we know we won't win the jackpot... but $1 is a fair price to dream for about 20 minutes :)

    March 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Will

    My professor once said he wouldn't buy a lottery ticket, but he would walk the streets looking on the ground for a winning ticket. The odds of finding one were about the same as if he actually played.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jay

    Why not just buy 175,000,000 tickets to cover every number combo... Still leaves $400+ million to the good.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shamrock4949

      Yeah, but there are thousands of more combos than that....and do you have $175k to invest? The odds are not 175,000 to 1...THey are about a 100 million to 1.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      because it would take ~28 years and a lot of ink/paper to fill out that many slips for each possible combination.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • WMoonFox

      Assuming that the numbers go from 00 to 99, with five standard number slots and a powerball, there are roughly 1000000000000 (one trillion) possible combinations. The official odds do not assume that all number combinations will be exhausted.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      Oh and if one other person won, you'd have to split the money with them, and considering after taxes, time and effort, you'd be down a lot of money.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Mostly because you actually have to do it at stores. Let's say that you decide to get 175K people to each buy 1000 unique combination of numbers. You wouldn't necessarily have to pay them as long as you promised them a share of the winnings and fronted them the money for the cash. Of course most lotteries have rules against people buying tickets on behalf of another person, usually it voids the winnings. Of course if you have 175K people you trust (legal contracts would just be evidence to void the winnings) you could just have some form of understanding. Do you have 175k trustworthy friends?

      March 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gltmne

      It doesn't work like that...

      March 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mega nerd

      It would take you up to 2025 days to find the winning ticket if you were able to process them at 1 second at a time.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • BRanon

      II read an article earlier that said you would need 28 years to fill in every combination of numbers (if done every 5 seconds) and it would take all the paper in the national lottery system to print the tickets.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. R

    Somebody has to win and I might as well try!!

    March 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shamrock4949

      Yeah, they told the last 5,000 people who won the same thing–you can't win. People play lotto and played the old neighborhood numbers because sometimes it was the only hope they had to cling to.

      March 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dreamer96

    This is just more prof we could use a National lotto to pay off our National deficit...just require the winners to take a ten years pay out, them them leave any future payments to anybody in their wills...and make the winnings tax free...and enough people would buy those tickets, that we could pay off our national debt faster then Congress ever will..

    March 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. WMoonFox

    While I know it won't be me, as my State doesn't participate and I am far too lazy to drive 200 miles for such pitiful odds, the odds are better than then advertised sole-winner odds that somebody in your audience will win, making the overall claim fuzzy at best. Just sayin'...

    March 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. alex

    i dont care about all these mathematical terms and examples, all i know is someone could win and that someone could be me :)

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. gman

    I have better odds at hitting the lottery than cnn.com has in printing anything benificial for the human race.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. balls

    rick santorum has better odds of being POTUS.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jan930

    Your odds is 0 if you don't buy a ticket.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Rob

    I'd like to win the lottery just to prove the writer wrong.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. gman

    beneficial

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. beckyc444

    I would love to know how much the Lottery is making off of this drawing... and I also find it funny that so many people in this country complain about having no money but can spend $20 on lotto tickets.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jason

    The only way to guaruntee NOT to win is NOT to play. If EVERYONE would recognize this – and simply put down a $1 wager...all is well. But – who is the bigger fool....one who would not take the change for 600 million with a $1 bill no matter how great the odds – or a fool who won't bother? You tell me Mr. Author...

    March 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Rick Morris

    So! There is a chance?!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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