Since we’re approaching a historic event in American lottery history, it is important to establish some perspective about winning the big prize. After all, the chances of winning the upcoming Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350, but who really knows what that means? First, a bit of background.
The Oct. 23 Mega Millions drawing will be the largest lottery jackpot in American history. Because there were no winners at Friday’s drawing, the current estimated jackpot for the grand prize is $1.6 billion, surpassing the previous winning record of $1.586 billion.
With about 30 hours to go before the drawing (as of this writing), ticket purchases will likely increase and push the jackpot even higher. However, it’s still going to be pretty tough to win.
You should still play to win–but here are some things with better odds
This section is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a fun (and rather astonishing) list of odds for various life events–odds far more likely than hitting the Mega Millions jackpot.
Here are the odds that you:
- Will be involved in a drunk-driving accident sometime in your life: 2 out of 3
- Get married at least once by the age of 30: 11 out of 20
- Will have a marriage ends in divorce: almost 1 in 2
- Can get away with murder: almost 2 in 5
- Will get selected as a contestant on The Price Is Right (assuming you’re in the audience): 1 in 36
- Might fall to your death: 1 in 218
- Will get audited by the IRS: 1 in 160
- Were born with 11 fingers or toes: 1 in 500
- Will make a hole-in-one in golf: 1 in 5,000
- Will be injured by a toilet: 1 in 10,000
- Win an Oscar: 1 in 11,500
- Might die in an airplane crash: 1 in 205,552
- Will drown in a bathtub: 1 in 840,000
- Lose your eyesight from laser eye surgery: 1 in 5 million
- Become an astronaut: 1 in 12.1 million
- Get elected President of the United States of America: 1 in 32.6 million
- Will contract the bubonic plague: 1 in 46.6 million
- Die by vending machine: 1 in 112 million
- WILL WIN THE MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT: 1 in 302.5 million
Mega Millions wanted it this way
Of course, it may seem odd that the two biggest jackpots in history occurred in the last two years. As it turns out, there’s nothing odd about it. Mega Millions did this on purpose.
The first thing that Lottery regulators did was a simple ticket price increase: $1 to $2. The price increase mirrors the same price that Powerball charges for its tickets.
The second thing the company did was to monkey with the odds and draw selections. The drawing used to be a five number selection out of 75 numbers, then a Megaball selection out of 15 numbers.
That arrangement created a 1 in about 259 million chance of winning. However, two years ago, Mega Millions tweaked the formula to a five number selection out of 70 numbers, but a Megaball selection out of 25 numbers.
Those simple adjustments created the new odds that sail upwards of 300 million against winning. With fewer people winning, the jackpots had only one direction to go–way up.
So, it’s probable that someone will be a new billionaire after tomorrow night. But fewer people are winning, and that’s just how Mega Millions wants it.
Of course, we’re buying Mega Millions online lottery tickets ourselves, too. After all, it’s a billion-and-a-half dollars, people.