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. horsecountry

    When the jackpots get this big, a $1 ticket isn't really a bad bet. The "expected payoff" on a jackpot of $540 million on a $1 bet, if my arithmetic is correct (and it often is not), is a little over three bucks. The odds say go for it. Hey, buy three tickets. More than that? No.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. StetsonHat

    We all know the odds when we spend our money on that lotto ticket. The odds are not good, but if we do not buy that ticket our odds of winning that money is 0. So if it costs me a dollar to dream and hope that my ticket could be that lucky 1 in 175 million, i believe it is a dollar well spent. It aleast gave me the dream to think bigger than i ever possibly could and potentially it could happen. Unlike you people at CNN.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Suzy

    Someone's going to win eventually. We all have a chance and that's really all that matters.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. James

    It's a amazing how negative people can be. We're aware of the odds and like Suzy says someone will eventually win.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. chris

    if you don,t buy a ticket your chances are 1 in 0 someone will win it could be you so why not take a chance

    March 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Awesome

    we all know the odds is very high for winning the lottery but, come on, If we don't buy a ticket then we absolutely have no chance to win! good luck to everyone buying ticket. Just spend a dollar you might be a winner. If you don't win then you are not losing your sleep because you lost 1 dollar.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jason

    If I buy a ticket, it probably won't be me. If I DON'T buy a ticket, it will 100% definately NOT be me.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Greg

    Your right CNN. I will save my dollar and then spend it on a piece of bubble gum that i will later swallow and then poop in the toilet. A much better way to spend my money.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jason

    Forgot to say this....if I do win...I'm coming back here to tell you where to stick your odds.....LOL

    March 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Debbie

    @ Jason: you said it perfectly! It's a long, longshot, but for many people, it's a chance to have a few hours of a dream, of hope that things in their lives will be better.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. BJJCA

    Unless you're the person with the winning ticket. Then your odds are 100%.

    Probability is subjective to the specific variables affecting the individual subject, not purely the group as a whole.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dean

    One in any is better than zero. Time to go cash in the winner:)

    March 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Doug

    Can I take a loan out for $175.7 million and buy every combination to guarantee my win? $640 million – taxes – $175.7 million = still more than I will ever need to live on.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Memz

    The odds are low but someone's going to win. As the great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

    March 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mark

    You are completely misrepresenting the nature of probability. Because the odds of event A happening are longer than the odds of event B happening, and you don't expect event B to happen, doesn't mean that event A isn't going to happen. In this case, it is going to happen; someone is going to eventually win this sum of money. The odds of the Mega-Millions Lottery paying out this money is 1; certain.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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