When news reporters specify that a lottery has been won, they will mention how incredibly lucky the winner was to have actually won the lotto. The reason why they will emphasize the possibility, is that it is hard to believe that one person chose the correct set of numbers from all the variations that were on the table.
If the odds of winning the lottery are compared to the chances of lifetime events or disasters that people fear most, it is interesting to see how lucky a lotto winner actually is.
Struck by lightning. According to the SA Weather Services, South Africa is one of the countries with the highest lightning related injuries and deaths in the world. Statistics from the weather service show that the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 350 000 in South Africa.
Dying or being in a plane crash. According to The Economist’s 2015 statistics, the probability of a plain going down is around 1 in 5,4 million. In 2006, David Ropeik, a Risk Communication Instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that the risk of dying in a plane crash was 1 in 11 million.
Killed by a meteorite or comet. In 2014, earth sciences professor Stephen A. Nelson from Tulane University in the USA, stated that the odds of dying from a meteorite impact, are 1 in 1,600,000.
Shark attack. According to the International Wildlife Museum in Tucson, USA, the chances of being attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067 in a lifetime.
Becoming an Olympic swimmer. In 2015 in the USA alone, the USA Swimming had 362,320 registered swimmers, only 49 of which participated the Rio Olympics in 2016, which equals to the chances of 0,0013% of making the Olympic team.
How are the odds of lifetime events compared to winning the lotto?
In Zimbabwe there are several lottery games that lotto players can place their bets on, 2 of the most popular games are Bonus Lotto and Lotto. Chances of winning the Lotto are 1 in 8,145,060 where players have to choose 6 numbers from 45 balls. The odds of winning Bonus Lotto are 1 in 5,245,786, where the player has to select 6 numbers from 42 balls.
The odds of winning the lotto in Zimbabwe are better compared to lotteries in South Africa. The odds of matching all 6 winning numbers from a selection of 52 numbers and winning the SA Lotto are 1 in 20,358,520. And the chances of winning the PowerBall in South Africa are 1 in 42,375,200 where 5 numbers from 50 plus 1 PowerBall from 20 have to be matched.
Winning the lotto in Nigeria is similar to winning the PowerBall in South Africa, the chances are 1 in 43,949,268. To win the first prize for Baba Ijebu in Nigeria the 5 numbers drawn from 90 balls have to be matched.
The chances of winning the Kenyan Lotto are 1 in 139,838,160 where 6 numbers drawn from 49 balls and 1 bonus ball that is drawn from another set of 9 balls have to be matched.
The odds of winning one of the biggest lotteries in the world, the US PowerBall are 1 in 292,201,338. In order to win, 5 main numbers drawn from 69 balls and the PowerBall drawn from 26 balls have to be matched.
Even when a bet is placed on the Zimbabwean Lotto, the lotto with the best odds from the information above, the chances are 228% higher to be killed by a meteorite than winning the Zimbabwean Lotto.