Odds of winning Mega Millions AND Powerball

May 17, 2013 2:50:17 PM PDT
With the Powerball and MegaMillions lotteries both hitting high jackpots this weekend, plenty of people are dreaming about winning one of the prizes. That is for people who don't know how to set goals. Dream about winning both prizes. May 17, 2013

MegaMillions' jackpot is at $190 million as of 10:30 a.m. Friday. It's very high, but not in record territory like Powerball's $600 million jackpot as of noon Friday and which is now tied for the 2nd largest single jackpot in history. Win either, and you could probably buy an awful lot of anything you want.

The odds of winning either are already astronomical. But as in "Empire Strikes Back," real dreamers think along the lines of Han Solo when he yelled at C-3P0: "Never tell me the odds!"

For each lottery, your chances of winning Powerball are better than your chances of winning Mega Millions. Powerball and Mega Millions both draw 5 numbers from a single batch of white balls. Powerball's pool of possible numbers drawn on the white balls is larger than Mega Millions' pool by 3 digits (1 to 59 for Powerball and 1 to 56 for Mega Millions). However, there's the 6th number that's pulled for each lottery drawing, the Powerball number and the Mega Ball number. That 6th number comes from a completely different pool of digits. Mega Millions' pool is larger than Powerball's pool (1 to 46 for Mega Millions but 1 to 35 for Powerball). That's what makes it tougher to win Mega Millions, the 11 additional digits in the pool for the 6th number.

According to the people who run the lotteries, here are your odds of winning the grand prizes for each of the drawings: The odds of winning Powerball's big jackpot for any drawing are 1 in 175,233,510; The odds of winning the Mega Millions big jackpot for any of the drawings are 1 in 175,711,536.

So, the odds of buying tickets that will win both jackpots is 1 in 30,788,792,085,411,360. That's one in thirty quadrillion seven hundred eighty-eight trillion seven hundred ninety-two billion eighty-five million four hundred eleven thousand three hundred sixty.

For some perspective, the largest estimate that we could find about the number of people who have ever lived on Earth is roughly one hundred fifteen billion (115,000,000,000).

So, go ahead. Dream the dream. If you are that 1 in 30,788,792,085,411,360 to win both lottery jackpots this weekend, it would be the biggest story ever in the history of humanity.