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. Luvsfuzzysweaters

    No to worry someone will win tonight. 175 Million different combinations, there will be some large investors who will bet the 175 Million different combinations and still double their money.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      It's already been proven it's impossible to get every combination. It would take one person 28 years to fill out every combo.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie S.

      Nope. The after tax haul of the lump sum payout is less than $199 million. If you have that much money, you're not dumb enough to throw it away on the lottery! My chances of winning are NIL because I will make more money investing that dollar (even in today's volatile markets) than throwing it away on a ticket.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy

      That would be a risky move. If one other person also wins, they'd prob break even at best. If two others win, they'd lose millions.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      It actually isn't possible. There's no "pick my numbers" computer program, and there isn't enough specialty lottery paper to pick enough. Also, it would take you over 28 years.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • T'sah from Virginia

      Actually, you can't play 176,000,000 times – it's impossible – You can never do it on 1 machine and even if you spread it out to many machines, it can't be done. Besides, I'm winning tonight and I only played $5.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oleg

      Chances of EACH OF YOU BEING BORN are SOOO MUCH smaller.
      just think 500 years ago you ancestor could get distracted and not look in the direction of your grand-gramma.
      5000 years ago..
      5 mil.
      1 bil some primitive lifeform...

      forget you. Forget the whole Earth.
      The chances of this Universe existing is so small, that physisists still can't understand it and suggest there are infinite number of alternative Universes.

      Chances of forming a Universe with life in it is 10^(10^123). I can't wrap my mind around it – there are so many zeroes there:
      – you'll die barely starting writing it out.
      – all 6 billion people can't write it ou in their lifetime.
      can they walk, drive, or jet in their lifetime along this huge number finely printed out? you calculate.

      so you're ALIVE - you won the biggest lottery ever. Just don't waste your life on gambling.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • GP

      It takes 28 days to play all the 175m combination. So this option is out of picture.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mgm

    What if everyone thinks that its not him/her? Ain't no freaking way this lottery wud have survived this freaking far. Hey, u never know!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kurmugn

    At 175,711,536-to-1, there is another way of looking at the odds. I am thinking of one particular date between now and 481,401.47 years from now; if you can guess which date that is, I will give you over $600,000.00! You only have to pay me one dollar for each guess.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guaranteed Win

    Well, if the odds are 1 in 175 million, if I was a rich guy I'd buy 175 million tickets and be guaranteed to win the 640 million, more than tripling my investment. That is unless someone else wins and I have to split it, but according to this article, that's not going to happen as no one is going to win....Or did they just mean that no one who read this article was going to win, like, it's somehow cursed...?

    March 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • plush

      it would take you 28 years to fill out all the slips for the various number combinations, so GOOD LUCK!

      March 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      If you bought that many tickets, it would ahve to be the quick pick ones because it would take you 28 years to fill them out individually. That means you would have duplicates and you would'nt necessarily win. HOWEVER, due to the huge number of people in it now...someone will hit jackpot. I'm fine if I only get the 10k or 250k winnings. Honestly...250k would make me very happy. I would be a winner technically, but I wouldn't get so much media hoopla. I believe about 300 people people won 250k in the last drawing so people are still winning over the past 2 months that no one has hit the jackpot.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darryl B

      It doesn't actually work that way. The odds of winning are 1 in 175 million, but there are in the neighborhood of 25 BILLION possible number combinations. So to guarantee having the winning numbers, you'd need to spend a whole lot more than you'd ever win back.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bman

    The odds of the person who wins and read this article farting in your general direction? 100%

    March 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • nylescota

      awesome man, awesome. Somebodys gotta win and you cant win if you dont play. therefor the author of this article is a burro

      March 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    Chance of this article keeping me from buying a ticket: 0.000000000000000000000%

    March 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tomlasusa

    Well thanks for that, Mr. 'Glass is Half Empty.' ;-)

    March 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Me

    You can't win if you don't play!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    It's just a dollar for a ticket, right? Then another dollar for the next lottery ticket, then another, then another, then another...

    You'll still never win the jackpot in this government tax on the mathematically impaired. A couple of folks will, but you won't. Sadly, the lottery mostly preys on poor people, those who can least afford to part with their money in a vain pursuit of an elusive jackpot.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. plush

    party pooper!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    I have been unemployed for eight months, despite being a veteran, and having a bachelors degree in chemical engineering. The lottery seems like my best chance at making money.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scotty

    The guy writting the story has bought thousands of tickets and wants to stop other people from buying and possibly winning... Yeah the odds are against all of us but someone eventually wins

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tastefully Nasty

    The fact is someone (or persons) WILL win....against all odds

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Even if you win the mega millions the odds you subsequently declaring bankruptcy are actually quite high, which is quite sad. I still put in my $5 though.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jordan

    Things that have a 1:175,000,000 chance to happen occur........all. the. time.
    It's not like people have gone out and already spent the money assuming they've won a 600 million dollar jackpot already. The way this article is written, I should just go buy a coffin right now for the 80 times I'll be killed by lightning. It means NOTHING that outcome A has a better chance of happening than outcome B. Things will small probabilities happen A LOT.

    March 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
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