Author: Selena Maranjian | September 05, 2018
So you're saying there's a chance...
Very few people win lottery jackpots, but that doesn't stop millions from buying tickets. Americans spent around $80 billion on lottery tickets in 2016 -- that's about $245 per person, and about $316 per adult.
There's a problem, though: While the potential payoff may be astronomic, the chance of winning it is microscopic. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot, for example, are 1 in 292,201,338. There are about 327 million people in America, so it's almost like randomly picking one resident as the winner.
1. You're more likely to have a baby born with teeth
You've probably never seen a newborn with teeth, but it happens. The odds of it happening are actually about 1 in 2,000 to 3,000, making it a much more likely occurrence than your winning the Powerball jackpot. Natal teeth can present a problem for breast-feeding, but they're often removed by doctors. They're not the baby's official baby teeth -- those will typically grow in some months later.
2. You're more likely to hit a hole in one in golf
Even if you're an excellent golfer, you know that it's very unlikely that you'll ever hit a hole in one. It happens more often than you probably think, though. The odds of hitting a hole in one have been estimated at 1 in 3,000 for a tour player and 1 in 12,000 for an average golfer.
With those kinds of odds, even an average player may reasonably be hopeful about hitting a hole in one. If you play an 18-hole round once a week, that's 936 holes per year. At that rate, the odds suggest that, on average, you'll get a hole in one about every 13 years. That's way more likely to happen than your winning the lottery.
3. You're more likely to die of a bee sting
Don't worry -- few of us will ever succumb to a bee. Still, bee stings do end up causing the death of many people per year. The odds of your being one of them are 1 in 6.5 million, per the Harvard School of Public Health, making that far more likely than your winning a Powerball jackpot. If you think you might be allergic to bees, it's worth having some allergy testing done, and if needed, getting allergy shots.
4. You're more likely to become a movie star
You're much more likely to become a movie star than to win the lottery, and being a movie star is likely to bring you significant wealth, too -- so you might want to work toward that instead of a big lottery win. The odds of becoming a movie star have been estimated at about 1 in 1.5 million, per Amram Shapiro in The Book of Odds.
5. You're more likely to be hit by part of a plane falling from the sky
If you're not yet grasping just how unlikely it is that you'll ever win a lottery jackpot, try to imagine being whacked on the head by part of an airplane falling from the sky. That sounds crazy, right? You probably can't imagine it ever happening, but it does, on rare occasions. The odds of it happening to you have been estimated at about 1 in 10 million. So consider looking up now and then, when you're out and about.
6. You're more likely to date a supermodel
You're much more likely to date a supermodel than you are to win a Powerball jackpot. Just how much more likely can be hard to determine, as it's difficult to pinpoint the number of supermodels. That hasn't stopped some researchers, though, as it has been estimated that the odds of dating a supermodel are about 1 in 880,000.
7. You're more likely to die from flesh-eating bacteria
Dying from flesh eating bacteria is a grisly way to go, but fortunately, it won't happen to the vast majority of us. The odds of that happening to you have been estimated at 1 in a million -- making it much more likely than a Powerball jackpot win. A little information might help you avoid succumbing to flesh-eating bacteria: Know that it often enters the body through an injury or surgery -- or if you eat contaminated food, such as raw seafood. If you think you might have contracted it, you should get checked as soon as possible, because time is of the essence. If you're healthy and strong, you're likely to be able to survive it.
8. You're more likely to have your tax return audited
The thought of having your tax return audited can be quite scary. Fortunately, it's not likely to happen to most of us. According to the 2017 IRS data book, there were about 150 million individual tax returns filed in 2016. Of those, a sizable 933,785 ended up "examined" -- i.e. audited. That may seem like a lot, but it's a mere 0.6%. The odds, therefore are about 1 in 161. Those odds are likely to get even better in the coming years, as Congress has been cutting the IRS's budget repeatedly. Just last year, the odds of having your tax return examined were 1 in 123. Know, too, that there are ways to reduce your odds of being audited.
9. You're more likely to live to 100
The typical American is likely to live into his or her 80s, but an increasing number of Americans are hitting the big 1-0-0 -- and even living beyond that. As of 2017, per the U.S. Census Bureau's data, there were 86,248 people aged 100 or older in America, out of 325,719,178. That means that 1 in 3,777 Americans is a centenarian, and it means that reaching that grand old age is far more likely than winning a Powerball jackpot.
10. You're more likely to be attacked by a shark
Every summer for 30 years, the Discovery Channel has presented "Shark Week," featuring lots of scary footage that can have you fearing shark bites every time you go to the beach. The good news is that it's quite unlikely that you'll ever be attacked by a shark. The odds are 1 in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File (ISAF). (They're even lower if you restrict your swimming to rivers, pools, and lakes.) The bad news is that you're far more likely to be attacked by a shark than to win the Powerball jackpot.
11. You're more likely to win an Olympic gold medal
You're probably already suspecting that you are not going to end your life with a gold medal from the Olympics in hand, but you might not appreciate just how unlikely it is that you'll ever win Olympic gold. The odds have been estimated at about 1 in 662,000. Presumably, the odds are a bit better if you've been training for many years and have some championships under your belt than if you spend more time on your sofa watching movies than working out.
12. You're more likely to have identical quadruplets
Odds are, you went to school with several sets of twins -- and you may even have some twins in your family. Triplets, though, occur far less frequently, and quadruplets are even less common. Meanwhile, having identical multiples is less common than having "fraternal" (i.e. non-identical) ones. Still, despite all that unlikelihood, you're still much more likely to have identical quadruplets than to win a lottery jackpot. The odds have been estimated at 1 in 15 million.
13. You're more likely to be a genius
Are you one of the most brilliant people you know? You might think so, but only 1 in 50 people are deemed smart enough to qualify for membership in Mensa -- "the international high IQ society." To be well beyond the Mensa cut-off, with an IQ of 190 -- for context, Stephen Hawking's IQ is estimated to have been around 160, and Albert Einstein's between about 160 and 190 -- you would face odds of 1-in-107,519,234. In other words, it's far more likely that you're a super-genius than that you'd win the Powerball jackpot.
14. You're more likely to be dealt a royal flush on the opening hand in a poker game
Poker players know that it's very common to be dealt a pair among the five cards you receive at the beginning of a round. The odds of that are about 1 in 2.4. They also know that it's far less likely to be dealt a full house -- a set of two and a set of three. The odds of that are 1 in 694. It's also abundantly clear that you're probably never going to be dealt a royal flush -- five consecutively valued cards all in the same suit -- and not just any five, but an ace, king, queen, jack, and 10. The odds of that are 1 in 649,739. Still, that's much more likely an occurrence than your winning the lottery.
15. You're more likely to win an Oscar award
If you've never been in a movie or haven't helped produce a movie, you're probably not going to win any of the 24 Oscar awards given out each year. But how likely is it for that to happen to an average person? Well, the odds have been estimated at 1 in 11,500. So relative to many other things, such as being made a saint or having identical quadruplets, it's somewhat likely. Thus, acting lessons may pay off better than buying lottery tickets.
16. You're more likely to become a millionaire
You're probably ready by now to hear how much more likely it is for you to become a millionaire than to win a lottery jackpot (though winning one would probably make you a millionaire, too). But you might not appreciate how possible it is for you to become a millionaire -- especially if you save and invest for the long term the dollars that you would otherwise gamble on lottery tickets.
The U.S. stock market has averaged annual gains of close to 10% over many decades, enough to turn 25 years of $10,000 investments into $1.1 million. About 1 in 30 Americans is a millionaire. Here's how you might get there:
17. You're more likely to die of sunstroke
It may seem highly improbable that you'd die of sunstroke (or heat stroke), but it does happen to people who are out in extreme conditions or who are exerting themselves to an extreme degree. Indeed, the odds of someone dying from sunstroke have been estimated at about 1 in 8,976. You can reduce your odds by knowing more about sunstroke and possibly adjusting some behaviors. For example, the Mayo Clinic has noted that it can be triggered by wearing too much clothing so that your body can't cool off, by drinking alcohol, and by getting dehydrated. Some ways to protect yourself against it include drinking a lot of water, avoiding sun burns, and not leaving anyone in a parked car.
18. You're more likely to be possessed by Satan
Not everyone who is deemed to be possessed by Satan would agree with that conclusion, but many people are so deemed from year to year. It's been estimated that your odds of being found to be possessed by Satan are about 1 in 7,000. Interestingly, it was recently reported that there has been a growing demand for exorcisms in the past few years, and that around 500,000 cases occur in Italy alone each year. There's an International Association of Exorcists, which has licensed about 200 people to rid people of demons.
19. You're more likely to get into Harvard
You're more likely to get into Harvard than to win a lottery jackpot. Harvard received 39,506 applications for its class of 2021 and admitted 2,037, resulting in an acceptance rate of about 5.2%. That's roughly a 1 in 20 chance of being admitted. Of course, those are the odds for the students who actually apply, and students who apply to Harvard are likely to be above-average students. If you're an average student, your odds of getting in to Harvard are even lower, but they're still much better than the Powerball jackpot's 1-in-292,201,338 odds.
20. You're more likely to end up in the emergency room due to a golf cart accident
Golf can seem like a pretty safe sport, as you just tool around a golf course striking a small ball with a big stick. But appearances can be deceiving, and apparently, there's a 1-in-22,355 chance that you'll experience a golf-cart injury serious enough to send you to the emergency room. You can probably reduce this chance by driving responsibly and not driving while drinking -- and by looking out for other golf-cart drivers who are not driving responsibly. Still, as unlikely as such an accident is, it's far more likely than your winning a lottery jackpot.
21. You're more likely to become a professional basketball player
About 14% of elementary school children want to be a professional athlete when they grow up, and by high school, about 5% still want to, according to tradeschools.net. Clearly, though, that's not going to happen to most of them. The odds of a high school athlete becoming a professional NBA player, for example, are 1 in 11,771. The odds of a female high school athlete becoming a professional basketball player are even more remote, at 13,015. Still, these odds are much better than your odds of winning a lottery jackpot.
22. You're more likely to die from an accidental gun discharge
There has been a big outcry for increased gun control in America in recent years. Many people want stricter laws in order to reduce the number of mass shootings. But mass shootings and even small-scale shootings aside, guns are responsible for many deaths -- by accident. It's estimated that your odds of being killed by a gun being discharged accidentally are about 1 in 8,305.
23. You're more likely to survive a plane crash
Few people appreciate how likely it is that you'll survive a plane crash, should you have the misfortune of being in one. The odds of survival are 38%, or 1 in 2.63. Part of the reason is technology: Planes are designed much better than they used to be, with, for example, seats that can withstand 16 times the force of gravity that are made of fire-retardant fabrics. Pilots are better trained than ever, too. If you want to improve your survival odds even more, wear sensible clothes on your flights, pay attention to the safety information given to you, and move quickly when you have to.
24. You're more likely to find a pearl in an oyster
The odds of being a lucky pearl-finder have been estimated at 1 in 12,000. It can happen to you simply when you're eating oysters in a restaurant, but the kind of pearl likely to be discovered in such a setting is often a different kind, inferior to the kind prized for jewelry and not worth much. In fact, it's reportedly more likely to resemble a pebble than a pearl. You can up your odds of finding a pearl in an oyster by going pearl-diving. Some travel services can help you find places where tourists can dive for pearls in spots likely to produce them.
25. You're more likely to be struck by lightning
This is an old chestnut, but it's illuminating: You're much more likely to be hit by lightning than to win a Powerball jackpot. The odds have been estimated at about 1 in 1 million. In a group of 292 million people, only one is likely to win a Powerball jackpot, but 292 are likely to be zapped by lightning. Here are some tips to keep you even safer during thunderstorms: Stay indoors and while indoors, avoid water and don't use corded electronic equipment.
26. You're more likely to be injured by a toilet
It may be hard to imagine how you'd get injured by a toilet, but it can happen, as your odds of having it happen to you are around 1 in 10,000. You might, for example, be using a kind of toilet that's attached to a wall instead of the floor, only to have it fall. Or perhaps you might have a toilet fall on your foot while you're trying to replace an old toilet with a new one. Regardless, a little more vigilance when near toilets may keep you safer.
27. You're more likely to bowl a perfect 300 game
Anyone who has ever spent some time in a bowling alley knows that it's quite rare to knock all the pins down turn after turn after turn. To get a perfect score of 300, you'd have to bowl 12 strikes in a row. It might be more achievable than you think, though, as the odds have been estimated at 1 in 11,500 for an average bowler -- and only 1 in 460 for a professional bowler. Part of the difficulty in bowling a perfect game is that the mental pressure mounts, from one strike to the next. After a bunch of strikes in a row, it can be easy to choke on the next roll.
28. You're more likely to be born with 11 fingers or toes
Most of us have, of course, 10 fingers and 10 toes. Some of us have fewer, if we've been in an accident or had some other physical misfortune. But there are some people who start out with an extra digit. You may know some of these people but not know about the extra digit if it's been removed. Your odds of being one of them are relatively high, compared to many odds in this article -- about 1 in 500.
29. You're more likely to be elected President of the United States
We've had a movie star, a peanut farmer, and a reality TV show host become president, so it might seem that it's not too unlikely that you might become president, too. The odds of it have been estimated at about 1 in 10 million. You might want to consider running before you load up on lottery tickets.
30. You're more likely to be killed by fireworks
Sure, fireworks are beautiful and exciting, but they can be dangerous, too. They're responsible for multiple deaths each year -- very often killing amateur fireworks deployers. The odds of your being killed by fireworks are estimated at 1 in 340,733, suggesting that you're probably safe going to that fourth of July celebration at your local park. Still, keep in mind that you're more likely to be felled by fireworks than to win a lottery jackpot.
31. You're more likely to become a Navy SEAL
Among those who apply to be a Navy SEAL, the odds of meeting the qualifications (such as having good vision and being mentally sharp) are rather good -- about 1 in 16.7 -- but that doesn't mean those qualified folks become SEALs. The program recruits about 40,000 candidates annually, but only about 250 end up becoming SEALs. Those are odds of 1 in 160, but only among rather promising candidates. Fortunately, those who don't make the cut still typically end up with jobs in the Navy.
32. You're more likely to have your identity stolen
You've probably read about identity theft and are aware that it's a big and growing problem. You might also be assuming that regardless, you're not at a huge risk of falling victim to it. Think again. In 2017, about 1 in 15 people reported being a victim of identity theft. It's far, far more likely that you'll have your identity stolen than that you'll win a lottery jackpot. Fortunately, you can protect yourself against identity theft and reduce the odds of it happening to you by keeping your personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, and so on, close to you. You can also check your credit reports for any signs of fraud and use two-party authentication when possible. (You can get free copies of your credit reports once a year from each of the main credit reporting agencies via www.annualcreditreport.com.)
33. You're more likely to see the Aurora Borealis in Florida
You might assume that the Northern Lights, more formally known as the Aurora Borealis, can only be seen when you're far north, such as in Canada, Norway, or Alaska. Well, yes, it's much more likely that you'll see the phenomenon in such spots. But it's far from impossible to see them in Florida. They do reach down that far on rare occasions. One scientist based in Tampa has seen them there several times since the 1960s. There have been about 21,000 days since 1960, and if he saw the Northern Lights in Florida three times in that span, that yields odds of 1 in 7,000 -- far more likely than your winning a lottery jackpot.
34. You're more likely to pick all "Sweet Sixteen" teams in the NCAA March Madness tournament
If you enjoy filling out NCAA March Madness brackets with your guesses every year and then seeing how you do, you've probably come to appreciate just how unlikely it is that you'll ever come close to getting all the guesses right. It's seemingly impossible just to guess correctly which teams will make it to the "Sweet Sixteen." The odds of that have been estimated to be around 1 in 1.9 million, making it far more likely to happen than your hitting the jackpot.
35. You're more likely to file for bankruptcy
You may not expect to file for bankruptcy, but many of the people who end up doing so never expected to, either. According to statistics from the American Bankruptcy Institute, there were 765,863 non-business bankruptcy filings in 2017. When you consider that there are about 327 million Americans, that comes out to about 1 in 427. You can reduce those odds by being sure to have a well-stocked emergency fund and by saving effectively for retirement.
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