Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« News Flash: Mainstream Media Discovers Store Brands | Main | Why to Keep Tithing in Tough Economic Times »

August 02, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It's been a long time since I did any probability... Do you have more chance of writing a New York Times best seller AND dying on a bicycle, than you do of winning the lottery?

How are these calculated? I don't believe that I or most people in this country have close to a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of being President. Doesn't that mean that there are 30 people in this country who will be President at some point? That makes no sense.

Dave --

You have to take out ineligible Americans -- those below 35, those not born in US, etc. -- and then calculate odds from there. That said, seems like there would be way more then 10M people eligible to be President.

I've often wondered the odds of finding a winning lottery ticket. Stories pop up, every now and again, of someone losing the winning ticket, or of winners never coming forward. It seems like my odds of winning by finding that missing ticket aren't significantly worse than my odds of buying the winning ticket. So if you see a lottery ticket on the ground, pick it up; it's certainly a less expensive way of playing the odds.

Odds of winning the lottery if you don't play: ZERO.

So one out of every 220 authors is a new york times best seller? I find that incredibly hard to believe...

I am with Dave on the President odds. Seems off to me.

The same for winning an academy award... the reference group need to be stated. Unless they hand out Oscars for movie watching (even better, for moving watching on a 42" TV using a Panasonic DVD player) my chances are probably significantly lower... :-)

I'm not sure about these odds either. I have a better chance to win an academy award than die in a car accident? And a roughly equal chance of being murdered as dieing in a car accident?

The point is good, but the stats are garbage. Make the same point using real stats and it'll stick better.

The lottery is a tax on people who don't understand math

I also have to admit that the odds of writing a NYT bestseller seem a little too good to be true.

Yeah these odds seem way off... Not only do some of them seem ridiculous (any author has a 1 in 220 chance of hitting the NYT bestseller list? Not even close - there's probably that chance of getting published to begin with), but they're also very simplistic. Odds of dying on a bicycle? What if you never ride in city traffic? Surely the odds would be much higher... What if you never ride a bicycle?

I always maintain that buying a lottery ticket is only stupid if you do so expecting to win the jackpot. People who buy multiple tickets, spending a large chunk of their income are idiots. Someone who buys a single ticket each week just on the offchance they'll win something has an infinitely higher chance of winning than the person who decides to hoard that dollar (or however much a ticket it in your area). If you don't play, your odds are zero.

I didn't realize there were odds of being injured by a toilet. lol! It's good to be informed.

Among one of the obvious fallacies here is that while all lottery entrants have an equal chance of winning the lottery, not all acting performances have an equal chance of winning an Academy Award, nor do all eligible persons have an equal chance of becoming president, etc.

That is what appeals to many about playing the lottery instead of trying to write the next best seller or win an Academy award. They can't do those things. They aren't gifted actors or authors or politicians. But they have just as good of a chance as JK Rowling or Barack Obama or Morgan Freeman in the lottery.

A lot of those odds seem way out of whack. 1 in 220 to write a NY Times best seller?! Maybe thats the chance for someone who wrote a book in any given year. They don't say what time period the odds apply to either, so are those odds for 1 year or someones lifetime?

The lottery is a game to be played for entertainment purposes. If you keep that in mind and understand the low likelyhood of winning then spending $1 on it occasionally is pretty harmless.


The tapwater thing is fascinating to me. A one in five million chance...there are several hundred million people in this country, yes? Does that mean that there have been dozens of documented cases of death by tap water?

where do they come up with these odds?! like the 1 in 11500 odds of winning an academy award or 1 in 220 to write a best seller.

as of july 2010 there were 307,212,123 people in the US...for those odds to be accurate that would mean 26,714 people will win an academy award.

and 1,369,418 best sellers will be written

68,696 people will be injured by toilets

61 people will be killed by hot tap water?!

When you look at the principles of large numbers though, the most unforeseeable events happen at predictable and regular intervals. All those things mentioned happen ALL THE TIME, so why wouldn't winning the lottery. Somebody will win, that's all there is too it.

Nothing wrong with having fun and buying a dream for a dollar. Same with the strip club, buying a dream for a dollar.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.