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. markus

    I bought 10 tickets...so my chances are suddenly 1 in 17.5 million.
    Big improvement. Still a long shot, but far more than if I had no ticket at all. Way to pi$$ on everyone's Friday, CNN.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Syndrome Zed

    But if I don't win, how can I hire a private army to Crush my enemies, see them driven before, and hear the lamentations of their women?

    You take the fun out of everything, CNN...you might as well be a Fox News report on hot college girls as done by Anne Coulter and that Hannity [censored].

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Syndrome Zed

      Aww man...leave out a "me" and ruin a great line....

      March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unit34AHunter

      LOL! Right on!

      March 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gdidieu

    So the real truth is, you need to invest $175,711,536 in unique tickets to have a guaranteed winning ticket. That would net you a 464 mil return on investment IF you don't have to split the winnings with anyone who lucks out with a random winning ticket. If there are more than 3 individual tickets with the unique winning numbers then you lose out on your investment.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Syndrome Zed

      True, but if you have $175 mil to spend on lottery tickets, you probably don't need the help.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Don't forget about taking cash instead of annuity and taxes.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Well, you can probably eliminate a ticket like "1 2 3 4 5 [any powerball]" pretty easily, so that would reduce the number of tickets you'd have to buy. Even then, the attack space is so large that it's practically unreasonable to even try – given the number of tickets you'd have to buy, and assuming six tickets per machine per minute, you'd need ~29.4 million minutes to get every possible ticket. Now, assume that you have twelve hours (720 minutes) to buy tickets – you'd need to have around 41,000 people buying tickets for twelve hours continuously in order for a brute force attack to succeed.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J

    Chances are better that the guy who wins will give me half the money for posting this than me buying a ticket. Chances are better that a far off relative I've never heard of will die, and I'll inherit millions. These things are a tax my friend.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pete Woytovech

    Actually, if you look at it from the 'anticipated payback' (the only real way to look at odds-based games of chance), if the expected payback is $300 million (after taxes, lump sum), and the odds are only 176 million to 1, then your antipated payback of a $1 ticket is BETTER than $1.00. (Of course this assume that only 1 winner, and that for a $300 million net payback, there are 300 million tickets sold...).

    But even if you DON'T play, you can think of it as winning: I bought a $1 ticket, and won $1 (since you won the $1 from the $1 you DIDN'T spend on the ticket.....

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Poor johnnie boi

    Throwing a rock and hitting the moon 1 in 175.6 million

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. des

    One can dream!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Judy

    Why do people put a negative spin on something like this! Anything is possible. Be positive and bring positive energy!! So most of don't win. Did this person writing the article buy a ticket? You can't win if you don't play! :-) Have fun be positive, you never now lighting could strike and wouldn’t that be something!!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. gravis

    Chances that CNN will write a worthless article: 100%

    March 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Will

    Yes, the chances are 1 in 176,000,000 and you can be that 1. Someone will win eventually and it is worth the $1; getting my ticket after work in an hour or so:-)

    March 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Den

    yeah, the haters focus on the high jackpot odds, but the overall odds of winning a prize is 1:40... I wonder how many will hit 5 of 6 and win 250K tonight

    March 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Doc Brown

    Flux Capacitor!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. WIll

    It's been said before and it's true: The lottery is a taxation on stupidity. :)

    March 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. brad

    Well I'm guaranteed to win something.. why do you ask? because someone on my facebook just posted a pic of a lottery ticket and if it like it and share it on my timeline, I will be paid if they win.. woohoo.. but in all seriousness... it's nice to dream , but when you wake up to smell the coffee, don't let it burn ya..

    March 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sarah

    Why so negative? Someone will win eventually. To say it won't be you is ridiculous. It probably won't be me, but someone has to win eventually. Someone will be that 1 in 175.7 milliion. The rest of us can dream. It is fun to think about all of the possibilities. Why take that away from us?

    March 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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