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. C007

    175.7 million to 1: That's if you just do the Quick Pick. If you actually apply skills in studying previous winning number sets, you can significantly increase your odds of winning.

    March 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      Uh, no you can't. The probability is going to stay the same regardless of your "strategies".

      August 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. iham

    When it gets over 300million buy ONE ticket Don't win it will have cost you $1 No big deal for even many of the poorest. Win and well......
    The perturbing this is when someone like Millionaire so and so buys a ticket and wins. Let some poor people win for ....... sake

    March 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Longshot

    In stead of playing the lottery, which partly was laziness, no parking etc... tomorrow I am volunteering to search for evidence in the disappearance of Sierra Lamar, a 15 year old girl who went missing two weeks ago in Morgan Hill Calif, doing my part in the search makes me feel better than wanting to hit the lottery.. I have a daughter about her age, and the out pouring of volunteers in this community has been astounding, even the Polly Klaas volunteers are are there looking. To read about it, check out NBCBAYAREANEWS.com I am so eager to help find her. Bless all of you:) Good luck with the lottery:)

    March 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. for sale

    Starting Saturday morning, I will have ten slightly used lottery picks for sale, I'm taking ten cents on the dollar. odds of winning only slightly less than if bought new.

    March 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shawn

    Chances that a giant jackpot will help pay for schools and textbooks... 100%

    There is always a winner.... the government takes 94% of the money before they calculate the 6% Jackpot...

    So just play and be happy if you win or lose, you are helping a good cause.

    March 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trix

      wake up and smell your garbage. Schools don't get money for texts silly wabbit, they use the lottery money for pensions and school board salaries. That's why they cut school budgets every year, because the legislature you habitually vote in year after year, figure that since there's money coming in from the lottery, they can cut educational funding.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/mega-millions-do-lotteries-really-benefit-public-schools/2012/03/30/gIQAbTUNlS_blog.html

      March 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      According to CNN's analysis, 60% go to the winners. 9% to the lottery. 25% to the states to spend how they wish. In NY, 1% makes it to education.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. Eric

    I don't care if odds are impossibly high, at a dollar a ticket, I don't really have anything to lose. If I do win, well...my friends and family are going to have a great time of their lives.

    March 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Whether you buy one ticket or a thousand – buying any tickets at all is a sucker's bet. It's true that someone is going to win this money, and it's easy to let that fact blind you to reason. If you wouldn't be willing to drop a thousand dollars on this, why would you waste even one, unless it's just for the fun of it? If that's the case, by all means, enjoy yourself, but do so with the knowledge that the odds aren't worth playing no matter how few tickets you buy.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Phishkiss

    So what if the person or people who eventually win have read this story? Do they get to slap you across the mouth for telling a lie lol?

    March 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Irving Schwartz

    My cousin Bob said you don't have to actually buy a ticket. As long as you write down the numbers you want it's just as good. If you win you pay your buck when you pick up your cash. I figured this was the smart way to do it. I gotta go now Ma says the squirel is about ready to eat.

    March 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    ///This Just In///
    This game is now a done deal. The poor now have lots of money. Cancer is cured. Everybody gets thier money back for thier losing tickets. All the starving in the world are now fed. Gas will now go back to 1962 prices .28 cents a gallon. Big Party for EVERYBODY.

    March 30, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GREG

    YOU CANT BE THAT DUMB. 175000000 IS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF COMBINATIONS. IF YOU BUY 2 TICKETS THERE ARE 174999998 COMBINATIONS LEFT.

    March 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me too

      and yet someone usually hits after 5 or so drawings...............

      March 31, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. RATS

    RATS

    March 30, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. paratrooper1

    The moneys from the megamillions that goes toward education is in the form of the Georgia Hope Grant for college. Not to be confused with the Georgia Hope Scholorship. Two different things. The grant pays for college tuition.

    March 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Me

    Idiotic excuse for an article? The author sounds jealous of the winner. Get a life.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Willie l

    Well I no one thing imma play till I win an Wen I win imma let y'all have sum of my to kiss for saying I want win

    March 31, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Me too

    "Me

    Idiotic excuse for an article? The author sounds jealous of the winner. Get a life." My sentiments exactly... Its our money..If we want to throw it away its ours to do so any manner we see fit....Go suck an egg Caitlin.....

    March 31, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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