What Are Your Odds of Winning the Lottery?

By Joe Golling

If you gamble on faith — not on odds — you might want to stop reading this now. Because the chances of winning just about any big stakes lottery game — like Mega Millions  — is just north of impossible. Let’s take Powerball, for instance. Odds of winning the jackpot: about 1 in 175 million. By comparison, your odds of getting hit by lightening — a presumably less favorable outcome — are significantly higher. So, be sure to take shelter during thunderstorms, and, if you play the lottery: you might not want to quit your day job just yet. But hey, you never know, right? People win all the time. In this animation and accompanying infographic, animator Joe Golling explains how to calculate the mathematical possibilities of buying the winning ticket.


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  • iwontwin

    im glad someone in san jose didn’t listen to you lol

  • richardchaven

    With tax and the discount for cash, expect to walk away with about a third of the jackpot. So it is not an even bet until the jackpot is (175mm x 3 x $2) $1.05 billion.

    An even bet means that it pays to buy every possible combination (as long as no one else wins too): it would cost as much as the take-home prize.