Eyeing $550M Powerball jackpot? You have better chance of death by lightning

CNN
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 11:00pm

The Powerball jackpot for Saturday's drawing will be at least $550 million, the third largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, after no one matched the winning numbers in Wednesday night's draw.

Wednesday's jackpot in the multistate lottery was $360 million. The numbers were 2, 11, 26, 34 and 41 with a Powerball of 32.

Saturday's jackpot will be the second largest in the history of the Powerball game, behind a $587.6 million jackpot that was split by winners in Arizona and Missouri in November.

The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was $656 million in the Mega Millions game in March 2012. That was split by three tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

The Powerball game is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A single ticket costs $2, and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175,223,510.

And if that's a little too pricey for you, a Mega Millions ticket will cost you only $1. The jackpot for Friday's Mega Millions drawing will be at least $190 million, and the odds are almost the same, 1 in 175,711,536. Mega Millions is played in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jackpots in both games are based on payouts as annuities over 30 years. Players can choose a cash payout that will be less.

But before you start dreaming of that mansion in Barbados, allow us to pour an icy bucket of mathematical reality over your head: You aren't going to win.

You stand a better chance of walking onto the golf course and hitting two consecutive holes in one than winning that jackpot.

Here are a few unlikely scenarios that, we're sorry to say, are much more likely than you taking home this jackpot.

From the Harvard School of Public Health:

-- Dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million.

-- Dying from a lightning strike: 1 in 3 million.

From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:

-- A golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million.

From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:

-- Hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely: 1 in 6,267.

From the National Weather Service:

-- Being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics:

-- Drowning and other beach-related fatalities: 1 in 2 million.

-- Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million. 

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