Odds of winning Mega Million jackpot: Better to marry a millionaire

Tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot may surpass the $656 million record set in March 2012 to become the biggest lottery prize in U.S. history. Photo: Mark Duncan/AP

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2013 — Tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot may surpass the $656 million record set in March 2012 to become the biggest lottery prize in U.S. history. Even though chances to win are slim, lottery officials are expecting a last-minute rush of ticket sales before the drawing at 11 p.m.

The Mega Millions jackpot grew to $586 million Monday, already the fourth largest prize in history. The winner can either take payments over the next 30 years, or a lump cash sum of $316 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Since as much as 70 percent of lottery tickets are usually sold the day of the drawing, lottery officials expect the jackpot to grow significantly today. 

“If it doesn’t surpass the record, we’ll be close. It’s growing a little faster than we thought,” Paula Otto, Virginia Lottery director and lead director of Mega Millions, said on Monday.

Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With 259 million possible number combinations, by Tuesday night’s drawing players will have purchased 65 to 75 percent of the possible numbers to hit the jackpot, said Otto. The more tickets sold, the greater the chances that someone will pick the winning number.

The chances to strike it rich are slim, and even slimmer after a recent rule change. Before October 22 of this year, the odds of winning Mega Millions were 1 in 176 million. However, after a recent change in the game, chances to win are now 1 in 259 million.

The change has to do with how many numbers players can pick and how many Mega numbers there are. Before, players could pick numbers 1 through 56 and there were 46 Mega numbers; now players can pick numbers 1 through 75 and there are 15 Mega numbers.

The chances of getting killed by an asteroid or comet are 1,000 times better than winning the Mega Millions, according to Tulane University—and this calculation is based on the old odds of 1 in 176 million.

Nobody has won the jackpot since the new rules went into effect.

However, there is a 1 in 15 chance to win something, even if it is the dollar spent on the ticket. The chances of winning the $1 million second place are 1 in 18.5 million, according to CNN.

If a winner is not picked Tuesday night, there will be another drawing Friday night beginning at $800 million. If a winner is not picked by Friday, the jackpot could swell to an unbelievable $1 billion, according to CNN.

“We had predicted last week that if we are still on the same roll on Christmas Eve, we’ll definitely be over a billion,” Otto said.

Put your chances of winning mega millions into perspective:

Chances of winning Mega Millions: 1 in 259 million

Chances of winning second prize in Mega Millions: 1 in 18.5 million

Chances of being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million

Chances of being struck by lightning in an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 6,250

Chances of having identical quadruplets: 1 in 13 million

Chances of marrying a millionaire: 1 in 220

Chances being killed as a pedestrian: 1 in 701

Chances of being drafted to play in the NBA after college if you are h.s. senior player: 1 in 6,864,000

Chances of dying from bee, hornet or wasp stings: 1 in 79,842

Chances of being killed in an earthquake: 1 in 97,807

At least your chances of winning are better than the chances of dying from that shark attack above: 1 in 264 million


READ MORE: A World in Our Backyard by Laura Sesana

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Laura Sesana

Laura Sesana is a writer and DC, Maryland attorney, joining the Communities in 2012.  She is the author of Colombia: Natural Parks, and has also written several articles on literary criticism.  She writes about food, health, nutrition, women’s legal issues, and the environment.  

In addition to writing for the Communities, Laura also works as an attorney and legal content writer.


Contact Laura Sesana


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