Feeling Lucky? How Lotto Odds Compare to Shark Attacks and Lightning Strikes

You're more likely to get killed by an asteroid or injured by a toilet than win the lottery.

People lined up around the country to see if Lady Luck favored their (slim) chances of winning a Mega Millions jackpot of $648 million.


Someone out there owns a winning Mega Millions ticket worth half of the $648 million jackpot. Is it you?

Chances are it won't be.

The other winner has not come forward—yet.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot hover around 1 in 259 million, thanks to an October 2013 increase in numbers available for the lottery. Before the increase, the odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 176 million.

To put that in perspective, the population of the United States is around 317 million people.

Lottery Design Makes It Nearly Impossible to Win

To understand the lottery, you need to understand odds.

Lottery jackpots grow when the numbers on the tickets people buy don't match the numbers that are drawn. When no matches occur, the jackpot increases. This particular prize grew after 20 straight drawings with no matches.

Experts say that the Mega Millions lottery has grown exponentially in size thanks to a larger pool of numbers introduced in October. More numbers means fewer chances of matching the drawn numbers, which in turn leads to ever increasing prizes.

The more people who play the lottery, the bigger the jackpot becomes and the lower the odds of winning—becoming a vicious cycle.

Odds of Winning Lottery Low

Trying to figure out the odds of winning the lottery? Here are some things that are more likely to happen to you.

  • Odds of winning something (even the dollar you spent to get the ticket) in the lottery: 1 in 15

  • Odds of winning the second-place $1 million prize (matching the numbers on five balls but not the required megaball): 1 in 18.5 million.

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