Odds of winning the lottery close to zero

Published: Oct. 23, 2018 at 5:59 PM CDT
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People were still buying tickets on Tuesday for their chance at winning the Mega Millions jackpot of $1.6 billion.

However, Madison College math teacher Paul Peeders said the odds of winning the lottery are almost zero.

Peeders broke down the math for NBC15. There are over 300 million possible combinations of six numbers. That means that with one ticket, your chance of success is 0.00000033 percent -- basically zero.

Even those odds do not stop people from buying those tickets.

"In the end, I guess, it’s just a little bit of reality. It’s a big number, it’s a disappointing number, but you can’t get away from human psychology, and that’s always that chance that you could win it," Peeders said. "I know the probability of it, doesn’t stop me from buying the occasional ticket but surprise, I’ve never won."

Buying more tickets would increase your chances of winning, but Peeders said it would be a very small increase.

Peeders also told us the odds of some other situations that are much more likely to happen, including being struck by lightning -- about one in 114,000 -- or being injured by a toilet -- one in 10,000.

"There’s a lot of other sort of odds that people like to throw around," Peeders said. "So the odds of becoming an astronaut are about one in 12 million. The odds of winning an Oscar are about one in 11,500. I hold a hope for the odds of having a child who’s a genius, which is one in 250."

The drawing for the Mega Millions jackpot is Tuesday night at 10 p.m. You can see all of the winning numbers on NBC15.