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. fizzlemcnizzle

    I'm going to win ... then I'll finally have my gold house and rocket car.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    So I have a better chance of winning the lottery than having conjoined twins .. since I am male. I wonder how many rolls of paper it would take to print off 175 million tickets? Or better yet – how long would it take me to look over them all?

    March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. oxymephorous

    So what if you don't win? a big part of the fun is those few hours of daydreaming about what you would do if you won......... in a way, it puts your life in perspective. Who would you help? Where would you go? What would you buy, or invest in, or donate to? For a little while, we think like idealized versions of ourselves.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Math Teacher

    Correction, that asteroid is slated to pass the earth in 2020. Oops!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    What an incredibly stupid article. Of course the odds are astronomical. Unlike Vegas or Atlantic City, the lotto isn't a "sucker bet". Someone wins. Odds are long, but people win the lottery all the time. You're correct if you assume that 99.999% of people who read "It Won't Be You" end up losing...Thanks Nostradamus. But whoever does end up winning (and of course someone will) had the same odds as all the losers that played. Unless you believe someone is actually rigging the lottery, the odds for each ticket (winners or losers) are the same. It's fun to pull out estimated odds on silly unlikely occurrences but I'd truly love to see how people die in America from getting struck by lighting compared to people who win the Mega Millions in a month. I have a feeling the latter is a more often occurrence.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Groo

      I'm pretty sure I could increase my chances of being struck by lightning if I stood outside in a severe thunderstorm in a field holding a long metal rod up to the sky, lol.
      I wish the lottery worked the same way, because I certainly have an idea of what I'd do with all that money.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kev

    what are the chances of being attachked by a shark while the shark gets hit by lightning just outside the lottery centre where you are going to collect the JackPot????? go calculate that MIT !!!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Quixo

    I see these reports of people dropping $100s on this and it seems to me that you can focus your play just a little and drastically improve your odds: There are 46 possible numbers for the megaball (or w/e it is) so if you're going to spend at least 46 dollars on this, fill out slips to cover one of each 46 numbers and reduce the gamble (the odds) to the pool of the remaining 5 numbers. Would this not take the odds from the drastic 176m to about 3.8m?

    March 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nope

      No, that wouldn't drop the odds significantly at all, because even though you have picked each powerball number once it is the combination of the powerball number with the other 5 numbers that matter, so you still have a 46 out of 176 million chance of winning with this method.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      176 / 46 = 3.8. All you did was buy more tickets. The strategy is irrelevant. Assuming you don't buy duplicate tickets.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. blursd

    Something tells me if CNN is trying to dissuade people from playing a record lottery jackpot that probably means they want to increase the odds for themselves. Sneaky CNN ... real sneaky. "Oh, you'll never win the lottery, so you shouldn't play ..." as they send all their interns out to buy Mega Millions tickets.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 2bits

    Negativity abounds at CNN.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex T

    I just wasted 12 bucks.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dee

    Let me recommend a better article, "SOMEONE WILL WIN THE LOTTO, COULD IT BE YOU?"

    March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Much better .

      March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CP

    I don't care! I'm still playing :)

    March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. john

    It won't be you ???? So , if EVERYONE saw this stupid article , noone would be the winner ? Logical .

    March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    Face it CNN, you can't handle making good news or having people feel good for just a moment. You must ruin everything and keep people angry. How dare you!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. m

    Way to much money..Unsafe to have that much money..
    Too much of a good thing is always bad!!
    BUT...You could always give some away!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
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