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. TJ Sam

    Quixo
    Well said,

    for $46, 46 tickets covering all megaball numbers, your odds of winning is down to 1 in 3.8million approx

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

      Wouldn't buying 46 tickets alone bring your chances to 1 in 3.9 million, regardless of what the mega balls were?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Den

    Haters > Go interview the real ppl that beat those high odds and won millions. Ask them if they think buying tickets was worth it. Real ppl do win and the only way that's possible is to play. The key w/ lottery IMO is only spend what you can afford to lose, for me that was 5$

    March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. wjf010

    Chances of winning megamillions if you don't by a ticket – zero. Chances of winning if you spend ONE WHOLE DOLLAR – 1 in 175.7 million. By logic, the odds are infinitely better if you buy a ticket.

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

    Odds of winning if you buy a ticket: 1 in 175 million.
    Odds of winning if you don't buy a tcket: zero.
    Buy a ticket.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Candice

    You really don't know if someone redaing this article wont win, Someone HAS to win why not me? I know it is highly unlikely but there is still that small chance.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. skinsrock

    Blah... blah... blah blah blah... Someone is going to win, why not me?

    March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. blacklearner

    We have a deficit right?

    March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Matthew Saltzman

    Well, depending on the number of office pools you're in, and the number tickets per pool, it could be quite a lot better than 1 in 175 million. Lets say you went in with 150 people in the office, and each bought 2 tickets. That's 300 / 175 million, or 1 / 584,000. That's not too terrible, especially for a shot at say 3 million before taxes. So long as you don't expect to win, the outcome could be quite nice.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Not Quite

      Unfortunately, I don't think the math works out like that. Assuming you bought 300 tickets and they are all different, you have only removed 300 possible scenarios. So your odds are:

      1 in 175,711,236 which is 175,711,536 – 300

      I wish buying 300 tickets would change your odds to 1 in 584,000

      March 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DC

    Face it CNN, you'll never be # 1 in news

    March 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Math Teacher

    No, TJ Sam.

    "we talking about odds, not percent chance. Odds is 1 in 176million on 1 ticket.
    odds is just 1 in 176 with 1,000,000 tickets, different number combinations"

    There are 176 million combinations. Buying more tickets does not reduce the number of possible combinations. Even if you have 1,000,000 tickets, there are still 176 million possible combinations of numbers. You're smply taking 1,000,000 stabs at getting the 1 correct combination out of 176,000,000.

    So your odds are 1,000,000 * 1 / 176,000,000 -> 0.00569114597 *100 = 0.569114597% chance of success, or a 99.4308854% chance of failure.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Darwin was right

    God is going to give the winning ticket to a PAGAN, ATHEIST, CROSS-DRESSING, TREE-HUGGING, WHALE LOVER, just to 1) show he can do it 2) test the faith of all the devout Christians who think THEY should be favored 3) because God has a sense of humor.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Susan M.

      I love it!!!!!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • mama

      you make me laugh, right on if there is a god certainly god has a sense of humor.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Orlly

    Since you wrote this article, i feel compelled to apply for a job. It's obvious that the criteria for securing one are very low. Be productive and post something pointing me in the direction of the applications , pet.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. bryan

    mega millions is rigged, they are fixed. their super computer read all of our pick numbers to make sure none of them match drawing numbers. They already drawing numbers an hour before show on TV.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Really?

    Poor article and definitely not news. What didn't you just post an article that says "Nobody Lives Forever" or "Drugs Are Bad". Seems like it would be just as interesting and the only good thing worth reading are the comments.

    (closing window and going to foxnews.com)

    March 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Susan M.

    Hey, someone has to win it eventually!!!!!!

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