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. TheDonna

    It's official; my husband just told me he's off to buy a ticket.
    I hope I get the golden one!

    March 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Charlene

    you got to be in it to win it!! No one should automatically assume they are going to lose.. thats the fun of the lottery..! odds are definitly against all of us but you never knoww!!!! just dont go crazy with it!! good luck everyone!! :)

    March 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Pauly the B

    I don't always buy a lottery ticket. Once in a while.

    Sure my chance to win is a teeny tiny itsy bitsy almost impossible one off.

    But COME ON, It's a half a billion dollars !

    Your chance is as good as anyone else.

    The only way you absolutely have no chance is if you don't spend a dollar.

    I spent 5 and I like my odds. As good as anyone else.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Wilson

    I could pay off my student loans and have money left over for Starbucks!

    March 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ryan Vann

    This author, and some commentators don't seem to understand actuarially fair odds. The current payout is way more than actuarially fair, and worth a ticket purchase or two.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • fauxnom

      What are the odds that you would have been born? (Think of all the things that needed to happen at a specific time and place, ever since the universe began.) The odds of winning the lottery are infinitely better.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. newmoon2

    For the price of a ticket, you get a chance to dream! It's cheaper than a movie and at least there is a chance, however small, your dreams could become reality. Try that in a movie.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ralph J. Monasterio

    It's a fact. If you look at PAST winners, they usually WIN......when on the go, "Oh yes, now that I'm at this liquor store, why not BUY a TICKET?" ........"Quick, I gotta go." When they get home, they EVEN forgot they bought a ticket, until someone CLOSE to them had to remind him of it.

    Fact is.....They don't even THINK about it, until MUCH LATER! "Oh yes.....let me see......where did I put that ticket?" And find out they won $640 million dollars!!..........This is what is called THE LAW OF PROBABILITIES!!

    And so, I will give you a bit of advice......."Don't EVEN think about it!" "The MORE you think about WINNING, the LESS you'll WIN.

    Make sense?

    It's the LAW of PROBABILITIES, stupid!

    March 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JS

    The odds are long, true enough; 1 in 175,000,000. But, if you don't buy a ticket, your odds are 0 in 175,000,000

    Maybe that 1 is me.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Oscar

    You can throw out all the odds you want. The fact is chipping in a single dollar far outweighs the chance of just not playing at all, and there's no reason to say 'it will not be you', Unless, you know, you actually don't play.

    Aside from that, it's actually quite easy to navigate successfully through an asteroid field seeing how most of the debrie is spread out over thousands and tens of thousands kilometers; most of it laying in less then a 2 degree arc in the plane of our system.

    Dash as many hopes as you want; don't you dare throw out 'witty' comparisons and misconstrue them as facts. I'm insulted.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Loathstheright

    I haven't been winning since Bush stole the office.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. flairtimewhooooo

    When I win I will double down and buy 200 million tickets!!! What have you to say now odds makers!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Aaron

    Cost vs. Reward. To all those self-righteous people who like to remind everyone around them of the overwhelming odds against winning, let me say again; cost vs. reward! I know you like to think you are so wise and you would never be so silly and you wouldn't throw your money way on something the odds tell you is surly not going to work out for you, but the reason people do it isn't because, unlike you, they can't do basic math. It's because the cost is so little to them that it's worth the risk. The people who make that risk do not need the odds explained to them..

    If you kept the odds but reduced the payout to $2 instead of millions, no one would play. The risk / reward doesn't work. That proves the people who play the lottery aren't nuts. They know the odds. They are smart people. I can afford to lose a dollar. It's nothing to me. That's what the odds preachers never mention. They never talk about how small the risk is. They just talk about the odds on the payout.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. SuperJC

    There's some sight.. that during this Mega Millions jackpot amount build up; I already won some money... several numbers with mega. So my chance is much better than anyone else... But never mind just have fund.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Andy

    "The odds of a ticket winning a Mega Millions jackpot is 175,711,536 to 1.... you have a much, much better chance (1 in 3,720!) of navigating an asteroid field successfully"

    I disagree. 1:175711536 are much MUCH better odds than 1:3720 factorial.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JackQs

      Wow(Factorial)
      He is right(decimal point)
      LOL(Factorial)

      March 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. m

    If you do not play that is a for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!

    However....Pessimists will never win because they will never buy a ticket!!

    March 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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