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. edwoodjr

    It's not about the odds, it's about the fact that there is a pool of money out there and until those numbers are drawn, everyone with a ticket has a chance – albeit slim but it is not zero! I think prizes over, say, $200 million, should somehow be broken up into individual smaller prizes by design – this could have been broken up into, say, 20 individual prizes of $30 million plus.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. crazycatman

    The lottery is a tax on people who can't do math.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeD

      Math speaks for playing the lottery. Law of large numbers. Dependent vs independent probability. White noise in resolution comparisons. And, if you don't play, your odds of not winning are know to the exact amount.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. us1776

    Your odd of getting struck by lightning SIX times are better.

    But hey, this is fun. We know we're not going to win.


    March 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Badboy

    I hope it's not true but I heard a nasty rumor today that millions of lemmings went over a cliff last night.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ben

    Three winning Mega Millions tickets with all the correct numbers were sold. I hope at least one, if not all, of the people who purchased the winning ticket(s) tells the author of this article, at their televised meeting with the press, that they are laughing at CNN all the way to the bank.
    If you do like to gambol. remember the number One rule in betting:
    Never Bet More Than You Can Afford To Lose!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Doctor

    Here is an analogy for you. Play suicide Russian Roulette. That's where you load 5 out of 6 chambers with bullets. Spin the cylinder. Put it up to your head and pull the trigger. If you live, repeat 100 times! If you are still alive, you matched the lottery odds.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • bud

      The rule is ONE BULLET IN THE CHAMBER. I hope you don't play very often.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • bud

      Uh Doc, your chances are one in six every time. No matter how many times you do it. If you flip a coin 9 times and it's heads every time, what are the chances that it will be heads the 10th time? 50-50. just like the first time.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mathie


      August 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kim

    I know its a great big gamble but oh well what's a dollar. Its ironic how we can generate this much cash but our economy is struggling its make wonder what really going on

    March 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Arevalo

    Ok, you buy a ticket and your odds of winning are 175.7 million to 1... however, if you don't buy a ticket your odds of winning are INFINITY to 1. Seems like better odds to me to go ahead a buy a ticket and at least have some hope.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    @1513. AEH
    March 31st, 2012 1:00 pm ET
    Thanks to all who bought tickets. It helps reduce my taxes.
    This lottery thing is nothing more than part of the ruling classes smoke screen cover up our bankrupt econopmy, just like taxpayer provided birth control, auto manufacturer bailouts, slush funds in gauranteed loans to "green" business that go bankrupt.
    Just think of your ticket purchase as a voluntary non-refundable tax contribution. And your contribution to voluntary tax is based on your greed for a big monetary return for a cheezy $1 wager with all the odds in fine print or not even stated (that should be made illegal) on the ticket to gain your confidence.
    It reduces your taxes? I would venture to say it is that part of the cost of government that hasn't been made mandatory YET. In other words somebody didn't do the math to calculate for instsance the cost of running an elementary school and convert it to the tax base.

    March 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I just don't know. Does the MegaMillions lottery "really care" if you've cheated your kids, by embezzeling thier part of your grocery bill to buy MegaMillions tickets. No.
    Does MegaMillions lottery make a publicly itemized statement of where your precious hard worked for dollars go for? No.
    If thier jackpot next Tuesday gets kicked back to $12,000,000, will they lose a lot of thier ticket buying base? Yes.

    Most Americans CAN do the math. $12,000,000 may afford you a pot to p_ss in. 🙂

    March 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"


    March 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bud

    Absolute genius. Predicting that most players won't win. Revolutionary. Someone with $10k can bet on a company's stock. If you only have $5 you can't even pay the fees. But you can play the lotto. Most of the time lately my chances of making money on the stock market are the same as being hit by lightning.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. spiritual business

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to offer one thing back and aid others like you aided me.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. - Odds Bodkins

    ... S U C K E R S !!

    April 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fogbeültetés

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    April 2, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
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