While recent Powerball winner Mavis Wanczyk took home a record $758.7m jackpot, the odds of winning the lottery are astronomically high, so it's little wonder you're more likely to be struck by lightning. But that isn't the only unlikely scenario more likely than a jackpot lottery win. There are many others, each as mind-boggling as the next.
So next time you take out your hard-earned cash and throw it on a set of numbers, bear in mind that winning the lottery will almost certainly never happen, especially when you realize that you are more likely to experience these 15 things.
1. Writing A Best-seller
Getting your book published, let alone having it sell an extraordinary number of copies is a hard feat to conquer, and for every J.K. Rowling, there are millions of other writers whose books would be lucky to sell 100 copies, let alone a million.
After all, in America alone, over 300,000 new books were published in 2013, and according to Gregory Baer’s book, Life: The Odds: And How to Improve Them, the chances of an author reaping the blockbuster sales that come with being a world famous author are around 1 in 220. Admittedly, writing a publishable novel that then has to jump over 220 hoops is harder than buying a few lotto tickets, but you'll still have a better chance of becoming rich.
2. Being Involved In A Plane Crash
You would have to fly every day for the next 55,000 years before you experienced an airplane crash according to the Massachusetts Institue of Technology statistician, Arnold Barnett.
What's more, if you take away notable recent tragedies like that of the Malaysian airliner flight MH 17, flying on board an aeroplane is the safest mode of transportation according to a recent find, with only 0.07 deaths per one billion passenger miles. Yet even with those kinds of odds, dying on board a plane crash is still more likely than seeing your lottery numbers pop up.
3. Being Killed While Walking
Another crazy statistic that all but rules out your chances of winning big on the lottery is the death toll of pedestrians. In America, alone, two pedestrians out of every thousand are killed from walking along a sideway.
Yes, you're more likely to die the moment you walk near a road than by winning the lottery. And when you consider that the chances of winning America's biggest lottery are around 1 in 170,000,000, it only makes you realize how absurd the idea of winning it truly is.
4. Making It As An NBA Player
While many reading this will already have had their dreams of being a professional athlete unrealized, both high school and college basketball players have a considerably greater chance of making it in America's premier basketball league than most people think.
While the odds are still incredibly low, and with factors such as height playing a considerable role, compared with the lottery at least, making the step from high school to the NBA offers a 1 in 9,000 chance, which makes us wish we hadn't given up so quickly.
5. Catching A Ball At An MLB Game
With thousands of people filling the stands, you'd be forgiven for thinking that catching a baseball is impossible. But it isn't.
While the odds are around 1 in 563 (surprisingly higher than the odds of becoming a best-selling author), it still beats the silly odds of most major lotteries and if you're buying into an experience as opposed to waiting for a set of numbers that will probably never appear, waiting for that lucrative catch may be worth it.
6. Dying From A Bee Sting
Even the most macho of men will have trouble staying composed when presented with the ringing buzz of a bee, and with the odds of dying from the painful sting at an alarming 1 in 64,704, their wimpish reactions could easily be forgiven.
But with those odds, it's unlikely you'll follow in the bee's footsteps and die. If you are going to die from a wasp/hornet/bee, it will probably come in the form of a hive, which increases the likelihood of death around 4,515 times.
7. Conceiving Siamese Twins
While incredibly rare, giving birth to conjoined twins accounts for 1 in every 200,000 births according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In most cases, they don't survive beyond birth, but if they do, you'll have more chance getting rich off the inevitable press interest that comes with the birth than by winning the lottery.
Thankfully, you'll most likely give birth to a healthy child. And if you're someone who wants to live your wildest dreams through your child, you could always breed them into being the next Maria Sharapova or Cristiano Ronaldo. Even then, the odds of your child ending up like them is extremely unlikely, but you'll still have more chance of it happening than by winning millions via a set of numbers.
8. Winning Olympic Gold
Going for gold is a saying we've all installed in somebody or other, but we probably didn't mean it in the literal sense. After all, winning gold in the form of an Olympic medal is a scenario many imagine but few experience, with the odds of winning one at 1 in 622,000 proving that.
With that said, if you're still young, and in relatively good shape, then it may be worth getting in some training before the inevitable distractions of teenagehood occur. And who knows? You may just be the next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt- people who are much cooler (and talented) than your average Powerball winner.
9. Becoming A Hollywood Star
Another dream many had or still have is becoming a star in Hollywood. And who could blame them? But with so many people competing for the same jobs, the chances of being an A-lister are pretty slim.
In fact, it is estimated that there are over 2,000,000 unemployed actors in Hollywood in a field of fewer than 100,000 full-time workers, but if you think you have what it takes, then take matters into your hands and see where it takes you. Even that beats placing your hopes on a group of balls.
10. Becoming President Of The United States
Everyone, no matter where they're from should believe they are capable of becoming president, providing they were born in the country, of course.
Admittedly, the President's $400k annual salary won't make you Powerball-rich, but if you're willing to cash in on your status and do the lucrative speech tour that usually follows, you'll have wealth even the Clintons would envy.
11. Getting A Royal Flush In Your First Hand Of Poker
That's right: you have more chance getting lucky in a Las Vegas casino than you do playing the lottery. Not that they're any different. Gambling is gambling, no matter where it takes place, but it's crazy that a royal flush on a player's debut hand, at 1 in 649,740, is still far more likely than a lotto win.
Word of advice: don't gamble at all. Invest, and try to better yourself instead. Or just continue being blinded by your ignorance by believing that 'it could be you' and waste your money. Nor that we're judging you...
12. Being Murdered
The next time you consider buying a lottery ticket, remind yourself that at odds of 1 in 18,000, you're more prone to being brutally killed than you are winning that week's lottery. Not that we want to scare you...
Of course, such rates can fluctuate depending on where you live, but even then, your life will always be precarious so with that in mind, it's probably best to focus less on material gains and more on the things that matter.
13. Getting Attacked By A Shark
Currently, there's around a 1 in 11,500,00 chance of being attacked by a shark, which is verging on the ridiculous odds that characterize the lottery.
But hey, if you're in Australia and fancy more than just a paddle, you can always test those odds out for yourself. Who knows? You may even be attacked by one and turn your experience into a best-selling book. Even that scenario is more likely than you ever predicting the correct numbers.
14. Qualifying As An Astronaut
Being an astronaut is a common childhood dream because it presents you with the opportunity of going beyond the known and delving further into the unknown. But as with most childhood dreams, knowing how unlikely they are as you age results in the dream withering away. And with the odds of being an astronaut thought to hover around 1 in 12 million, that's not surprising.
In fact, you have more chance of being a professional athlete or movie star than an astronaut, which is probably for the best as it takes a significant brainbox to be one, with most NASA applications requiring a master's degree in a particular area of science or maths.
15. Becoming A Saint
For those who still believe they can win the lottery, then perhaps knowing that you have more chance of being considered a Saint by the Catholic Church will change your mind.
Even though you probably gamble all the time and curse like a trooper, you still have a 1 in 20m chance of being recognized a Saint according to Gregory Baer. And if you believe you can spawn miracles and demonstrate heroic virtue in all walks of your life, then it may not be a long shot and is still 15 times more likely than winning the lottery.