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. Tracy

    This was funny.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • LEVI

      Chance of Mitt Romney being elected POTUS 1 in 200,000,000. Cance of winning the Lottery 1 in 175,000,000

      August 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bar Exam

    I was recommended this web site through my cousin. I'm now not positive whether this post is written by way of him as nobody else recognize such precise about my trouble. You are amazing! Thank you!

    April 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BaTmAn858

      Huh?

      August 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jacie

    TO: Dontlietome (aka kaye)Sourgraping are we?The thing about your for all we know statement is that in fact, you DON'T know.What's your beef about some beunmr being drawn sa Lotto and having that beunmr actually having been picked or bought by a lucky person?There have been many winners of millions of pesos in Lotto in years past. Does that mean that may kalalagyan na yang perang yan din sa kanila?Eh sa merong nabunot at nanalo. Ano ang gusto natin? Pag malaki na ang premyo dahil walang nanalo dati, e i-forfeit na lang kasi masyadong malaki na at baka source of corruption iyon?It has been at least 16 draws na walang winner. Usually sa isang draw, 16M ang prize.Or are you saying na wala naman talagang nananalo sa Lotto? I'm quite sure then that you'd be 100% wrong. I personally know of some who have won the grand prize and have claimed them without a problem. I have relatives who have picked 5 out of 6 beunmrs correctly and received their prizes.Why don't you go to the PCSO office in Quezon City and tell it to their face? Sabihin mong may kalalagyan na yang perang yan.FOR ALL YOU KNOW (NOT!)

    April 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Siedrick

    I am only writing to make you be aware of what a ewsaome experience my girl developed reading your webblog. She learned many pieces, including what it's like to possess an amazing coaching spirit to make the mediocre ones really easily know some very confusing subject matter. You truly surpassed her expected results. Many thanks for presenting such informative, safe, edifying not to mention cool tips on the topic to Emily.

    April 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NotFromCali

    It's funny that out of the past 25 drawings 27 people have been in California the state that is in financial problems always wins the $250,000 – $1,000,000 5 + 0 or 4 + powerball. Now that number does include the 2-3 people that win in California on the same drawing dates. Matter of fact I counted that last 25 drawings so I am sure if I go back further there would be more. Either California people are very lucky right now or this is a California ballout. ijs

    July 25, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. Luther51

    Despite the statistics, people DO win the lottery every week. Each individual has the same odds, unless they purchase more tickets. While the odds may be astronomical against YOU winning the lottery, tell that to last week's winner.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lou

    Odds of winning if you don't buy a ticket.... 1 in INFINITY... so, that makes 1 in 175.7 million seem a bit more reasonable doesn't it? :-)

    August 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • david

      Actually, it would just be straight ZERO from a mathematic perspective

      August 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • vancouverron

      Wrong, actually. The odds of winning if you don't buy a ticket is zero. So the difference in the odds if you buy 1 ticket vs. if you buy zero tickets is 1/175,700,000 minus zero. Infinitessimally small difference.

      August 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaras

      You can bet on it............

      August 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fauxhawk70

    So you are saying that there is a chance?

    August 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    It's a tax on people who are rotten at math!

    August 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wade

    I think the lottery is horrible. With all the people suffering in this world and we give one person $640 million? It doesn't make sense. I think the lottery should draw the line to like 10 million and the rest of the money should go to help the poor and needy.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fast Fred

    .....then again if you don't buy a ticket, what are the odds you won't win.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rhenry

    Odds of me ever reading something written by you "zero chance in hell".

    August 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DavidW0909

    We spend 20 bucks a month on our State Lotto and the odds are major but the odds are zero if you don't buy one. So for one year I spend $240, big deal. It's fun to play the dream.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ItsJustMath

    1 in 175.7 million – odds that are essentially zero for any given person. Let's just call the lottery what it really is – a tax on people who are bad at Math.

    August 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LivingHistory

    I realized the odds when my son suggested that I choose the numbers 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 and pointed out that that combination has the same odds as any other combination of six numbers.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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