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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 03-29-2005, 03:01 AM
jeffrey's Avatar
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Default Probability Of Winning The Lottery - Don't Waste Your Money

Everyone knows that the probability of winning the lottery is a pretty big long shot. How long, however, you probably never really thought about. Your actual odds of winning the lottery depend on where you play, but single state lotteries usually have odds of about 18 million to 1 while multiple state lotteries have odds as high as 120 million to 1.

If you have ever thought you'd win the lottery, you're not alone. About one out of every three people in the United States think that winning the lottery is the only way to become financially secure in their life. This is a frightening statistic when you sit down and consider what the above odds really mean.

It's time to take a long hard look at the chances of you winning the lottery. While winning the lottery may be something that you want, to show you your chances we'll take a look at a number of remote occurrences that you probably wouldn't like to have happen to you - and probably don't think will ever happen to you - but are still much more likely to happen to you than winning the lottery.

How about the classic odds of being struck by lightning? The actual probability of this happening varies from year to year, but as a good estimate, the National Safety Council says between 70 and 120 people a year die in the US by lightning - so let's take 100 as our base. With the US population being approximately 265 million people, that means that the chances of being killed by lightning are roughly 2,650,000 to 1. Not very likely. However you are still 6 to 45 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than you would be to win the lottery.

Now nobody really wants to die from flesh eating bacteria, and with odds at about 1 million to 1, the chances that you will die that way are pretty slim. Then again, you are 18 to 120 times more likely to die this way than to win the lottery.

What are the chances that if you're playing with a group of four that two of you will get a hole-in-one on the exact same hole? At 17 million to 1, they're better than the chances of you winning the lottery.

What about dieing from a snake bite or bee sting? It probably isn't a way that you have imagined that you would leave the earth. You're a whopping 180 to 1,200 times more likely to die from one of these incidents than win the lottery. That's because the probability of dieing from a snake bite or bee sting is about 100,000 to 1.

Now I know that you are not a bad person and you don't imagine finding yourself on death row for a crime you committed anytime soon. Still, it's a lot more likely that you will be legally executed than win the lottery. In fact, you are 30,000% to 200,000% more likely to die in a legal execution than to win the lottery.

Or If I told you that you were 450,000 to 3,000,000 times more likely to die in an asteroid collision in the year 2029 than to win the lottery, what would you think? Well, these are in fact the odds according to this report at

If none of the above has convinced you to stop playing the lottery, then I'll bring out my favorite lottery fact. If you drive 10 miles to purchase your lottery ticket, it's three to twenty times more likely for you to be killed in a car accident along the way than to win the jackpot.
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Old 09-01-2005, 07:04 PM
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Default Re: Probability Of Winning The Lottery - Don't Waste Your Money

Here is a fact, that I use to show people how unlikely they are to win the lottery. I tell my friends when I play the lottery that I always pick the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 & 6. Their response is "there is no way that you can win with those numbers". "That will never happen". I have to explain to them that the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 are just as likely to come up as any other number combination they come up with.

Don't waste your money.
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Old 09-01-2005, 07:47 PM
$ Saving HS Sophomore
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Default Re: Probability Of Winning The Lottery - Don't Waste Your Money

I have told my dh this but he still says someone will win might possibly be him...and he has won smaller ($300-2000) a few times so he feel sure it's just a matter of time. :-)
He also says it is something he enjoys doing and he only spends about $3 a week.
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Old 02-16-2006, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Probability Of Winning The Lottery - Don't Waste Your Money

I did some math, which I am not very good at(lol) Spending $3.00 a week comes out to $156.00 a year using 4 weeks in a month to make it easier, you would of made $6.12 interest @ 4.25%
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:54 PM
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Default Chances of winning the lottery

The problem with this analysis is that it compares the probability of winning the lottery with the probability of a whole bunch of bad things happening to you. Who cares if the chances of winning the lottery are less than being hit by an asteroid? Most people don't want to be hit by an asteroid, but on the other hand most people think that winning the lottery would be very nice indeed. The probability of winning of the lottery if you buy one ticket is infinitesimal, but the probability of winning if you don't buy one is zero. I figure that a dollar or two a week buys me the pleasant feeling that perhaps I might be the lucky one - cheap entertainment by any measure. As to the fact that 1/3 of the population thinks that winning the lottery is their only chance to become financially secure, I'm surprised it's not more. This just reflects the fact that many people are just barely getting by, and their chances of becoming 'financially secure' are not much better than their chances of winning the lottery. However, if any people are out there spending a lot of money on the lottery, money that they need, or should be saving, STOP IT! Even if you buy a lot of tickets, your chances of winning are still infinitesimal.
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Old 02-20-2009, 02:32 PM
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I rarely play the lottery, but when I do I always buy enough tickets to cover every single number.

Meaning if lottery is #s 1-54 with 6 numbers per ticket, I will get 9 tickets and make sure every number is used on one of the 9 tickets.

Sure 6-7 of the tickets will probably not have a number hit... but when doing this I have gotten 3 numbers on a ticket about 20 times and 4 numbers 3 times.
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:15 PM
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I play occasionally in my SO's pool from work. Maybe 10 bucks a month. A pool of office players just hit the jackpot in the next county over from us so that really made me a little more hopeful. I'm certainly not playing with money I can't afford to lose so I think it's kind of "what if" fun. A better stat to look at might be the # of "winners" who end up broke within a short time of winning. Not sure of this number but have heard many bad stories.

A fellow worker actually matched 5 of 6 #'s the other night and only got $400. That had to suck.

I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in the '70's and can recall the long lines of people who really didn't need to spend money on lottery tickets. Some of these folks were seniors and a lot were recieving gov't assistance. That's the real shame and It hasn't changed. The states took a once looked down upon street hustle and legitimized it in the name of education. I suppose that makes it ok. At least for the street game you could play with as little a dime back then. Ah, the good old days.
"Those who can't remember the past are condemmed to repeat it".- George Santayana.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:33 PM
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Default probability of winning the lottery- don't waste you money

Don't waste your money hu. Well don't tell that to the people who did win the Lottery. People win all the time, over night millionaires. I know not everyone is going to win but for as little as a dollar you get a chance and get to imagine the possibilities of having a dream come true. You can experience the possibilities of "what if" Not too shabby for a dollar.
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:15 AM
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Take in to consideration if you actually won. Bottom line is somebody will always wins.

Also, when can a probability be perceived as fate?
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Old 08-21-2010, 05:34 PM
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Your chances of winning the lottery are worst than running into a deranged millionaire who decides to hand out all his money to you. It's like opening a NYC phone book and picking one random number and it matches someone you know...and that is a far better odd. But on the other hand (if you want to look at the positive side) everyone's chance is the same, and every time there is a winner. I think you should play because part of the money goes to education (we hope) in CA.
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:58 AM
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Default My solution...

I have a co-worker who quite often will collect a bunch of money from other co-workers. I tell her every time that after she collects the money and picked the numbers, that she should give the money to me and I would pay out any winnings those numbers might pay out. I also tell her I'll bring in bagels for the whole office the next day. I'd still come out ahead and she will continue to think she's going to hit it big. Unfortuneately, she never takes me up on the offer. Kind of sad if you think about it...
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:25 AM
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I don't see anything wrong with playing as long as you have the money and you're not taking money that could pay your expenses and you're saving. Problem with some people is their addiction that if they don't play they experience anxiety should their numbers come in. As long as you're not looking to it to solve your financial problems. When I play $1., I set aside $1. in savings. It's true that someone will win and it could be you why else would you bother playing. Look at how many do win. I don't necessarily think that it answers all of your problems as many have found out the hard way.
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:42 AM
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Gambling,smoking or drinkin are habits that we pick up through life, a habit can be changed, it just takes commitment, unfortuanately people just cant be bothered making the effort.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:47 PM
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How about staring a lottery? Sure fire way to make lots of money
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:31 PM
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Default Miles of Dollars

I could never grasp the odds of winning the lotteries until recently. Here's how: It cost $1 to play, with varying odds depending on the game. If dollars are laid end to end with each dollar representing a unique number combination, how many miles of dollars would result for, say, Powerball, at 95 million to one. My formula is: 95 million dollar bills times 6 1/8 inches each divided by 12 inches per foot, divided by 5,280 feet per mile.

Now, imagine driving all those miles and choosing one winning dollar bill. I don't play anymore.
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Old 04-07-2011, 12:10 AM
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Under the 18 million to one odds of winning the lottery would an example be placing one's shoe somewhere between the coasts of the US as representative of one's chance of winning the lottery? Is this an accurate evaluation of odds, or am I doing this wrong?
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:19 AM
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Just for your information, the probability of winning twice in a row is this number squared which is 0.00000000000006. This is not very useful information except that we can use this formula in reverse to get what we want. The cool thing about probabilities, as opposed to odds, is that the probability of winning is one minus the probability of losing. This leads us to a way of calculating what we want by using a double negative.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:46 PM
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Not winning twice in a row is not the same as losing twice in a row.
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Old 07-14-2011, 04:18 PM
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I look at it this way:

My chances of waking up tomorrow and being rich is 0
However if I buy a lottery ticket...
My changes of waking up tomorrow and being rich is 1 in 127 million

Better odds
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:29 AM
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Default Better chances than you think

Slow down on that math for a second. You are only using the chances of winning the lottery PER TICKET, and most people buy more than one ticket.

We get it, the chances of winning the lottery are horrible. But let's even the playing ground a little. You compare once-in-a-lifetime events with the chances of winning the lottery based on a one-chance-in-a-lifetime ticket.

Many people I know purchase $10 of lottery tickets per week. I'll use your statistics:
Chances of being killed by lightning: 2.65 Million to 1
Chances of winning the lottery: about 18 Million to 1 (for state lotteries) up to about 120 Million to 1

So, my friend who buys 10 tickets per week for 30 years buys 15,600 tickets in his lifetime. Waste of money? I suppose. But his chances of winning the state lottery IN HIS LIFETIME are just over 1 in a thousand (about 1 in 1154). In other words, he is more than 2000 times more likely to win the state lottery than get killed by lightning!

His chances of winning the multistate lottery are 1 in 7692. He is still over 300 times more likely to win the multistate lottery than die by lightning.

Math. How does it work?
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