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. Mike

    Heres the deal, folks. The lottery is simply a tax on the group of people that pay the least amount of income tax – the lower class. Ever notice the ratio of people that buy tickets is significantly skewed towards lower-income people? They have the most desire to win, and therefore buy the most tickets. Since their income is the lowest, they pay the least income tax. The lottery is nothing more than a tax thinly veiled with a chance of winning. But it is the government's only way of extracting a little more money from the lowest tax bracket....

    August 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • larryb

      luckily you are in that lighting your cubans with hundred dollar bills category. yeah right.

      August 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      The poor obsesed with lottery and gambeling, the rich obsessed with the stock market and commadidies.

      Makes you wonder if there is anyone trying to earn the honest dollar by manufacturing working and selling.

      August 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • LoL

      Ever notice that when a lottery article is posted, people like you always come by and say it's a tax on the poor? You're completely wrong and you know it. The lottery gives people a chance to have a life they only dreamed of. All it takes is $1 (or $2 depending on the lottery game you're playing) and that's it.

      August 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • damien7

      Very well put.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank White

      Well, I dont care what the odds are im going to play until i cant.. This is the only way I choose to get rich meaning I will not go out robbing stealing and etc.. I do wish I had a gift that can make me rich, but I dont some stuck with the lotto..

      August 17, 2012 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. lroy

    It sure won't be me, because I don't play. Every once in a while on special occasions I may buy a scratch ticket or two, but that's it.

    August 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikebo

    Where else can you spend a dollar or two dollars and win hundreds of millions?Don't you love he people who say they won't quit their jobs.Now those are the people who should never win.

    August 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack

    Just be smart with your money. Don't buy more than you should and treat yourself every once in a while. I am 44 years of age have two kids, make about 67-72 K a year ( my wife makes 110K), have a nice house in D.C., make an extra payment on my mortgage each year, have no car note, and not one ounce of debt, less the 515K note on the house which will be paid of in 15 years. I might decided to retire, but I will probably have fun with work then and leave a nice financial legacy for my kids. I forgot to add my kids are not in public school. Winning the lottery is a state of mind-be smart with your money and you will win. I forgot to add, I treat my wife to Ruth Chris Steak house by collect random change I find in Bethesda. There is money all around you!!!

    August 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eyes WiDE SHUT

      How can U afford kids in private school on that income? Or did you mean to say your kids are in public school? Public schools in Bethesda are rated like the top 10 in the Nation. Your taxes pay for that school system

      August 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mjplatt

    I play now and then, but lump it into the entertainment catagory. Sometimes it's a month or two before I even get around to checking the numbers. Sure, winning would be a cool thing........but I'm not hanging my retirement on the lottery.

    I guess I'm not the average player. I have a good job, i have retirement savings. It's like playing the long shot at the race track...only worse. You are betting on a three legged horse. LOL

    August 15, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eyes WiDE SHUT

    Mike your Wrong... The people paying the least amount of Tax work at Bain Capital.. They are know for having Swiss Bank accounts, Known to have money in Off Shore Cayman Island accounts. Have money in Bermuda accounts . They attempt to run for political office but won't release their tax records for the past 10 years. We know one year they paid only 14% tax on 20 Million plus in income.

    Don't talk and preach about what can be done.. We are from the SHOW Me state.. Show us what you have been paying into the coffers of the US Government. Show us that you have an investment in this country of at least 33% ..thats a third. Don't weasel out on us. When LBJ was President and we had the Vietnam war going on the Tax rate was 70% . When Reagan was president he lowered the tax rate down to 40%. When Bush was president (43) he started 2 wars unpaid for and lowered everyone's tax rate down to 20% for Cap gains . Then all the Corporate low life's switched their income source from W-2 income to dividends..or options so they could claim only 20% in taxes.or LESS. This is deception on the investment in this country. .

    You want to be a tru leader ... Prove to us you pay your FAIR SHARE of taxes.. don't just talk around the subject. Release ALL your returns. Let the American people decide if you are cheating on what your owe...

    August 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frank

    People of the United States of America,
    I have the winning numbers for tonights Power Ball in NY,To show what a loyal American I am ,when I win I will write a check to the United States Treasury for 1 Million dollars to cover my portion of the National Debt!

    August 15, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ted Miller

    1 in 175.7 million, yet, somehow, someone hits it eveytime. I guess 1 in 175.7 million is not such bad odds after all, or, no one would ever hit...right?

    August 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tena

    Yes your chances of winning is 1 in 175.7 million. Someone's gotta be that 1-it might as well be me. I spend 8 bucks a week on that chance. Please it's the only chance I take with my money. It takes one hour to make that money. Let me at least enjoy 1 of my hours at work.

    August 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Peon

    Speaking of the odds of things, even if you actually hit the lottery, now the odds of horrible things happening to you rises dramatically. New found fortune is nearly a death sentence to anyone who never properly learned to manage their money. The cork pops on their bottle of dreams, but then it comes spilling out all over the place. Just search for "lottery curse" or "curse of the lottery."

    August 16, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ron Gardner

    Your very first paragraph was an admission that you weren't going to tell us anything we didn't already know, but that didn't stop you from blathering on anyway, with the same tired list of probabilities. So what? There are far more wasteful, even destructive ways to spend a buck.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. gregorypierce

    Chance if you don't play at all – 0.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Desktop

    We're a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive process and our entire neighborhood will likely be grateful to you.

    August 16, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ant

    So why not just buy 175 million tickets, hit the number and then you're left with 177million to splur...oh wait, nm

    August 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JackM

    This Makes No sense The asteroid belt has thousands of miles inbeetween Each asteroid and of course it could be you, Why ruin peoples dreams?? Its inexpensive, Like Buying a sodabottle Its Habbit. It gives people something to dream for.
    Cnn Get Better Jornalists!

    16 Year Old Kid-Jack :)

    August 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
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