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. Anne Smardon

    The reason people buy lottery tickets – Whatever the odds, everyone has as much chance as the next guy to win and someone IS going to win – no matter what the odds. Like KevinD pointed out – the odds are never 0 to 176 million

    March 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mathie

      Wrong. There is no guarantee someone will win every time. They still have to hit the right numbers.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jay

    Chances of winning a lottery prize if you don't buy a ticket 0 in 1. Chance you will win the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 175.7 million. How it sound now?

    March 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Three days ago I had a little post that read:
    Anybody reading this post, that has a MegaMillions ticket, will not win $540,000,000.
    Then a day or two ago CNN picked up on this and posted this thread.
    So today...
    Anybody reading this post that had a Megamilllions ticket, you LOST DIDN'T YOU!
    I still have my dollar...and CNN still has thiers. HA HA HA HA!!!!! ;)

    March 31, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Amanda

    Odds of winning if you don't buy a ticket – ZERO – so play smart and dream!

    March 31, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Robert David MacNeil

    For all practical purposes, your chance of winning the lottery is the same whether you buy a ticket or not. The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Drew

      Nooo actually that makes YOU bad at math. As someone with a technical major, the difference between 0 and 0.0000000000001 is about an ocean of infinity. So you fail at math because you don't understand that zero is more of a concept than a number, and that there is a huge difference between 0 and any other number in our mathematical system, and you also fail at logic, because if you believe that you are as likely to win if you don't play as if you do, then you are just an idiot. Under what scenario would you have the same odds as deliberately playing? The winning ticket falls out of thin air?

      March 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dinesh Sharma

      Drew, I have a master's in math and Robert is right and u are the idiot. Yes 0 is special, we all know that but in this case ur chances of winning are so close to zero that for all practical purposes, it is 0. So 1 out of some 100 million people or whatever the total number is wins. The other 99,999,999 people loses. That is basically a zero

      March 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dinesh Sharma

      Drew, I have a master's in math and Robert is right and u are the idiot. Yes 0 is special, we all know that but in this case ur chances of winning are so close to zero that for all practical purposes, it is 0. So 1 out of some 100 million people or whatever the total number is wins. The other 99,999,999 people lose. That is basically a zero

      March 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Badboy

      When I took an engineering class several years ago the instructor told us that if you ever go to Las Vegas and stay at a casino hotel never reveal to the hotel staff that you're an engineer. If you do, you won't get free food and drinks.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zigg

    Whats the big deal on these "odds"? Bottom line is if you don't play you doint have a chance. So all you big wig, opinionated self minded quirks….either get a ticket or shut the hell up. Thats how I see it.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Britt

      Thank-you!

      April 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. andrew

    then why do people win it if theres no (chance in hell)??? i'll spend a few bucks to bring up my morale and maybe on day you never know i could win it theres a chance!!!

    March 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. andrew

    chance of smoking a pack of cigarretes a day and dieing before ur 60 1 of 20. so all you smokers who are bagging on people playin the lottery have fun with that one!!!!

    March 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Drew

    My odds are infinitely better by buying one ticket than someone who doesn't buy any. . .

    March 31, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Drew

    The chances of a bundle of 7ft long anacondas flying out of my ass? 0. The chances of winning the lotto if you don't throw in a ticket every once in a while? 0. WOWWWWWWWWWW THIS IS A MEANINGFUL AND ORIGINAL ARTICLE.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AEH

    Thanks to all who bought tickets. It helps reduce my taxes.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Megamath

    The odds are about the same as drawing a card from a deck of cards 35 miles high.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. svann

    The odds of 175 million to one are not bad if the payout is more than $350 million. Figuring you pay half the winning in taxes.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. svann

    If chances are better than payout minus taxes its a good bet. Just dont bet the rent money.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Fallen Angel

    I have a question for anyone.Did you hear the host of the show say that no one had won this particular lottery going all the way back to January.My question is how much money has the Lottery made from January till now on this one Lottery alone????? How convenient that millions of people that play everyday can't pick the winning number and magically after about three months they have a winner or winners.How many trillons of dollars did the Lottery make during this time.I think the Lottery is the REAL WINNER.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      Duh... Thats the point buddy. They tell you upfront you make less than your dollar back right in the odds. The lottery is a way to make the poor pay taxes and it is working as planned.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJUSMC7229

      "The lottery is a way to make the poor pay taxes and it is working as planned."

      How is it a tax when they are paying for it with their welfare checks?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.