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. swinebeef

    If you don't play the lottery at all, the odds of winning are far worse.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Darryl B

      "If you don't play the lottery at all, the odds of winning are far worse." Really? If you don't play, your chance of winning is 0.0%. If you do play, your chance of winning is 0.0%. (Technically, it's about 0.000000057%, but it rounds to 0.0%.) I'm afraid I don't see a difference.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. smokindeist

    It's worth the gamble as long as you don't get too crazy and spend your rent.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Nick

    What's the point of life if you don't take chances? Quit being a negative Nancy and have some fun.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tracie

    I bought a ticket for fun. I figure I have the same chance as anyone else who bought one. Why not???

    March 31, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. StarWarsGeek

    Hans Solo didn't own C3PO, come on CNN! :P

    March 31, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. junk foulk

    I once won $3 on the lottery. Who says people don't win?

    March 31, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. cruisecontrol

    "You're not going to win Mega Millions jackpot"

    If the person(s) who eventually wins it reads this story, they're going to be laughing all the way to the bank.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shepherd

    Where do people come up with these "odds"? The only way you are going to stand a chance of being bit by a shark is if you go in the ocean, then the odds apply. The only way you are going to win the lottery is if you play it. So unless I'm playing in the ocean, in the middle of a thunderstorm, giving birth to twins, on Pebble Beach golf course, the odds of winning the lottery don't matter one bit.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. t

    oh yeah...NOW you tell me.

    THANKS FOR NOTHING

    March 31, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Joseph

    Why hate on people for trying. If you want to get struck by lightning get out into the storm. Or stay indoors and your chances are 0. Well my chances are 1 in 170 million at least I'm in the rain.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Lucky

    If you play all possible 176,000,000 million combinations for $176,000,000 you are GUARANTEED to win. Of course, you have to contend that another possible winner would take a share of the jackpot away from you but if you are the only winner you can make $200 million on your bet overnight!

    March 31, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. P

    Odds are whatever you make them to be. Say you buy $5 worth of tickets for every drawing. The mega millions draws twice a week. Now say you play for 50 years. Then your odds of hitting the lotto are 175711526/(52 weeks*2 drawings a week*50 years*5 tickets per draw). Or 175711526/26000= 6,758. So in a lifetime, which most of your stats consist of, if you play $5 per draw your odds of winning the lotto are 1 in 6,758. Now those odds aren't so bad.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • bill

      Sorry P, but your math is incorrect. Each drawing is independent of each other. So, over the 50 years you cited, your odds remain the same, 1 / 176M.

      Same as tossing a coin... each and every time, it's 50/50. Your odds don't improve the more times your flip.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      bill your math is off. You didn't account for mutual exclusivity. P (A or B) = P(A) + P(B). So the probability of winning from buying 5 different lotto tickets is 1/175M + 1/175M + 1/175M + 1/175M + 1/175M = 5/175M

      August 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. t

    Why are so many people buying lotto tickets? They're the worst odds in history..

    March 31, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • bill

      it's not about the odds. it's about taking a chance. it's a fun, frivolous thing to do. It's also about hopes and dreams. Drop $5 and for 2-3 days, you can dream about what it would be like to do this or that... what's the big deal anyway... people want to buy lottery tickets, it's their call. Proceeds also help out the states.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joseph

    If nothing else you've helped your states schools so how is it that you loose. Especially if you have kids.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. homer

    Whoever actually does win it, I guarantee you someone has already told that person "face it, you won't win it"

    March 31, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • t

      no, no one ever told me that

      March 31, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
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