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. Bert

    "You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot." WHHAH WAHHH....you can't stop Debbie Downer.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ashok Kumar

    Winning this will make me richer than Mitt Romney without screwing the lives of millions of people.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • T-Bone

      Didnt realize Mitt was screwing so many people with his Capital Gains earnings.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      If I am he winner, I will give it all away and hope to have zero monies in my bank acccount at the time of death. I bought 5 tickets and so did my wife. We would love giving all the money to people in need. What is amazing is the fact that all of us like money. It is almost unbelievable to see teh frantic buying that goes on. What if Jesus came tonight and said: It's over for you folks on earth? It will happen you know and neither you nor I know when he stops our clock.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ganv

      Except that you will have screwed the lives of the other 170 million people who bought tickets...maybe only by a dollar each, but you ended up with their money. Pretty much like Romney and the rest of the financial services industry end up taking a little bit from each of many hard working people while contributing almost nothing themselves.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Xerc

    HA.. If I win, I'd buy CNN just to fire the person who said I couldn't win. ;)

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Chris

    Maybe some filthy rich billionaire should buy 200 million tickets and have pretty good odds of trippling his money.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Or maybe a filthy richy billionaire would lose a bunch of money. You are forgetting three things: taxes, taking cash instead of annuity, and if you have to split the pot with another person who has the winning numbers. It would be a horrible investment not to mention impossible. It would take decades to actually play all of the possible combinations.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • T-Bone

      At 5 seconds per card to fill out the little bubbles, it would take you 28 days working 24/7 just to fill out the cards.
      and not many people are fast enough to even do it in 5 seconds.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    "You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot." yet, there is a 1 in 175.7 million chance that i will. um?

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • T-Bone

      Soooooo, your saying i have a chance!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Einstein

    The way I see it there is a 50/50 chance of winning:

    Either you win or you don't...

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • matt

      LOL....I hate you

      March 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      No. There is a 1:175 million chance of you winning. That is not the same as 50/50. One thing is for sure, if you did not buy a ticket, you will not win.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Den

    yes the jackpot odds are insanely high, but what about the lower level prizes w/ much better odds, aren't those worth spending a few bucks for a chance to win as well? My best lottery advice is spend what you can afford to lose 1, 5, 10$ whatever. Dont assume you are going to win anything, be prepared to lose. Nothing wrong w/ dreaming of how you'd spend or save a giant payout though

    March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tony

    "You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot"

    HAH! The interesting thing about that statement is its both true and false because at least one person or group will be able to call this article a lie.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cjbaka

    If somebody wins the lottery, it will be someone white. It happens all the time.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • T-Bone

      Then if your black, why waste the money?
      kind of a silly way to look at it but to each his own.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denny

      You're stupid, what the hell does that have to do with anything? From what i've seen, people of all races win the lottery. Your ignorant

      March 30, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • HMMM

      SOUR PUSS

      March 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • PJ

      That is not true. I saw a show about lottery winners recently and several were non-white.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      The last big win in February was 364 million. It was a 83 year old black lady from Rode Island. So this time, it will be an illigal immigrant or Taliban from Iraq.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TJ Sam

    Math Teacher
    there is nothing wrong with your percent chance calculation. Except that ...

    Lottery is measured by odds.

    By your estimation, if you bought all possible number combinations except 1 , and only ticket you didnt buy ends up being the winner, then your logic of 175999999/176m is false.

    Having 99.99999999% percent chance of winning doesn't help either. Of course it is hard to hit the right combination at one time but the odds are better by more you buy. It only takes one ticket though.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Camille

    I understand the odds are low, but the point is that someone does actually have to win. So let people have fun.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Nobody has to win. Statistically it is possible that nobody will ever win the jackpot.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      I think this is a great illustration of how we humans are all alike when it comes to money. We are all sick.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Austin

    to whom ever wrote this article: This is what they pay you for? to be a dream crushing jerk? Yea. Great article.....and to the person who wrote this articles boss...you should be fired.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Grammar Police

    "– Chance you will be die from being struck by lightning:"

    Chance CNN will ever hire a decent copy editor: 1 in 250,000,000

    March 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. T-Bone

    I spent 20 bucks on tickets and have spent 3 days dreaming of what i could do with that cash.
    When the drawing is over and i dont win a thing, i will still say it was an awesome $20 spent just for the thoughts of how great it would have been.
    And since the drawing isnt for another 6 hours, i'm going to go back to dreaming about winning.
    Because until the numbers are drawn.... i could be the winner. :)

    March 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jeanne Moos

    If I win I'm going to buy CNN and fire every person associated with the writing of this article.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • T-Bone

      What would you do with the other 639 million dollars?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
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