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. Ryan

    Someones gotta win! I counter with a movie quote: "Having dreams is what makes life tolerable." Rudy (1993)

    March 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Matt

    Great job, CNN. Make your front page headline disappoint all of your readers.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      I agree with you Matt. Even if the odds are astronomical, SOMEONE eventually wins it. And in times like these, when so many people struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table, hope, no matter how fragile it is, keeps a lot of us clinging to it. Apparently, CNN could not find any other 'news' to report, so they took the easy road and just dashed what little hope we have. Nice going CNN. I think I'll go read Fox news now. :)

      March 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wysiwyg0904

    chance of winning with a ticket, 1:175 million.
    chance of winning without a ticket, 0:175 million.
    1 is better than 0.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cck99352

      Agree – the odds are most certainly not in your favor, but – someone will win. If you can afford to play, then it might be you.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      EXACTLY! I was going to post such a comment but you beat me to it.

      I don't drink coffee, so I don't bother stopping at Star Bucks, but what does it hurt for a person to skip that latte for one day and buy a ticket?

      March 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Peter

    Some gypsy crystal ball reading or other self-proclaimed clairvoyant guru may figure it out. I for one keep my dollar for purchasing a delicious pack of M&M.

    I have never bought a ticket. Wake up people.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wes

      Curious as to why you're saying "Wake up people", as if to imply people don't know that they are extremely unlikely to win? I bought 20 tickets, and I know that I'm not going to win. And I also don't care about losing the $20. Why should I have to "wake up"? Enjoy your M&Ms, no one is telling you to "Wake up, M&Ms are bad for your health!" We'll buy our tickets and we'll all be fine when we don't win. Mind your own business maybe and stop trying to flex your internet muscles.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • E Money

      Really, wake up? So $1 is so important to you that you just can't bare to part with it for a day to two of fantasy dreaming?

      I truly feel sorry for you and think you are the one who needs to "wake up."

      March 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pooh-pooh!

    ODDS: 1 in 175 chance...or:

    540million jackpot minus
    175million ticket expense
    equals 340 in profit.
    Paris Hilton could win this no problem, with a little up front expense....why not? its an automatic way to make her $175 million "in the bank" turn into $340 million "in the bank."
    READ: Rich person likely wins this

    March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Den

      account for the taxes? and halved if taken in lump sum?

      March 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paris Hilton

      Chance of several people is winning at the same time is higher than just a single win. At this moment, I am really not ready to share anything with anybody!

      March 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • E Money

      A couple of problems with that senario:

      1) It is technologically impossible to actually buy all the different combinations of numbers.
      2) You forgot about taxes.
      3) If there is even 1 other winning ticket then you have lost money ... A LOT of money. If there are 2 or 3 then your loss compounds.

      Don't mean to be a buzz kill but not worth trying even if you have the cash to do it.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      How exactly do you get 175 million tickets printed out if you could afford it? Assuming a machine prints 100 tickets PER SECOND, it would take 20.25 DAYS to print out 175 million tickets. This doesn't even account for the fact that you would have to coordinate the printout to be sequential. Oh, and the megaball number has to be sequential in a different order since it only goes up to 40 something wheres the main numbers go up to 65 or whatever. It's impossible to buy all 175+ million combinations in less than a week. Plus with the tax and smaller payout for lump sum, you'd basically be hoping no one else also won. If multiple people win at the same time, you'd be totally screwed, even with your 175 million added to the pot.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mr. Willis

    This article should have been double checked with an expert. The headline for this article is what is known as the "lottery fallacy." Even if the probability of winning the lottery is astronomically small, someone has to win the jackpot. But the reason for winning the lottery would be the result of purely chance, i.e. that an individual *just so happened* to win, but rather that the lottery is designed so that an individual *always* wins eventually, not simply by chance.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. William

    Well after i come to from passing out, i would buy a house, new car, and take a trip to Hawaii.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jeff

    I rather try than say "It won't be me" I have as much chance as anyone else. It's a dream, maybe a far fetched dream, but still not 1 i'm willing to throw in the towel for.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rudix

    I could sue you if i win....lol

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jeff

      You could just buy CNN and make the writer's life miserable. Better than suing if you win....LOL

      March 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. zs

    No. It will be one of us! That is unless of course it's none of us. In which lotto fever will get even bigger the closer this thing gets to a billion.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. DJ

    My odds are actually 50/50...either I'll win it or I won't!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Voter

    What are the odds of my vote making any difference to our national policies? But I still would vote!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Even if YOU don't win (or I), we could get a combo that will give us back more than we paid. That's what I want. I really hope 640 million people win 1 million each. Or maybe even more get 100,000 or 200,000 or such. Even 1,000 would make me very happy. I'm not greedy. I'd definitely help the vets and people down on their luck. Not hoard it like most of the wealthy in this country would.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. MidnightMillionaire?

    I hope whoever wins tonight will take a moment to post here ... to refute the headline! (And I hope to be changing the question mark in my user name to an explanation point! I've got my 10 tickets.)

    March 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • MidnightMillionaire?

      Oops .. I meant "exclamation point!

      March 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    After 10:59pm this evening, I "will be a winner", cause I'll still have my buck. Bye! ;)

    March 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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