Before you buy a ticket for tonight's record $1.5 billion Powerball drawing, know this: Your chances of winning are lower than the chances of dying by hot tap water.
The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $1.5 billion, which makes it the largest in U.S. history.
For some, the temptation to buy into the lottery clearly increases as the jackpot grows. In fact, just two weeks into the new year, sales of Powerball tickets have reached $3.3 billion — close to as much as was generated in all of last year, CBS News reports.
However, statistics show you’re better off saving your money. Lottery officials put your odds of winning the Powerball grand prize at 1 in 292 million.
Americans throw about $78 billion at lotteries each year, according to the most recent statistics from the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. Sadly, numerous studies have shown that it’s people with the least disposable income who are most drawn to the lottery.
For example, an Indiana University report correlated increased lottery sales with unemployment rates. CNN Money also reports that several studies have found that a large percentage of people who play instant lotto games have below-average incomes.
What’s worse, studies like this one published by the National Institutes of Health suggest that winners of past lotteries are not happier than control subjects.
To help you put the chances of winning the Powerball jackpot in perspective, here are some of the statistics Business Insider compiled in February 2015 when the Powerball jackpot reached a then-record-breaking $500 million:
Much more likely than winning the lottery:
- Writing a New York Times best-seller: 1 in 220 odds.
- Getting audited by the IRS: 1 in 175 odds. The good news is that’s down from 1 in 100 a decade ago. You can also improve your odds by knowing The 7 Mistakes That Could Trigger an Audit.
- Being wrongfully convicted of a crime: In 2006, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cited the odds at 1 in 3,703 based on rough math, but many experts say the odds are much higher.
- Losing an appendage in a chainsaw accident: 1 in 4,464.
- Winning an Academy Award: The gold-plated Oscar statuette might be worth a fraction of the Powerball’s current value — around $500 — but you have much better odds of winning an Academy Award than the lottery: 1 in 11,500.
Less likely, but still at least 15 times more likely than winning the Powerball:
- Suffering a death by hot tap water: 1 in 5 million.
- Dying from being a left-handed person who misused right-handed products: 1 in 7 million.
- Becoming president of the United States: 1 in 10 million — at worst. Being between the ages of 40 and 72, a law school graduate, a military veteran, religious, more than 6 feet tall and male dramatically increase your odds.
- Becoming an astronaut: 1 in 12.1 million.
- Becoming a saint: 1 in 20 million. Around 5,000 people have ever been canonized, compared with 100 billion people who have ever lived.
Have you purchased a Powerball ticket? Let us know why or why not in the comments below or on our Facebook page.