what are the odds?
(originally posted 12/9/2012)
I saw the title of the article and I couldn’t click on it fast enough. I’m always the first person to start bleating about how the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. so when I saw a list of 15 things more likely to happen than picking the winning numbers for the upcoming Powerball drawing, I was all over it.
To start with it appears that the chance of winning this particular lottery is 1 in 175,000,000. I won’t argue the math; I assume they know what they are doing over at “jackpot central.” It was some of the other odds that had me thinking.
For instance, this article says the odds of losing an appendage to a chainsaw are only 4,464 to 1. That cannot be right. Are they talking over the course of a lifetime or on any given day? Are we assumed to be living in logging country? Or in a horror flick?
There are 314,000,000 people living in the United States. According to this 70,340 of them have lost or will soon be losing an appendage to a chainsaw. If this number truly reflects the odds of something happening on a given day, for example choosing the right lottery numbers, then America only has 12 years until every man, woman and child has had a limb chainsawed off. Certainly the manufacturers of gloves have to be concerned. Although it’s possible that some people will have both arms lopped off and some people will get off scot free. It sort of makes sense really; handling a chainsaw with only one arm would be a lot more dangerous… although if you’ve already sawed off one of your arms you’d think that you’d be a bit more careful.
Part of me thinks that this can’t be right. At what point would the government step in and make chainsaws illegal? Certainly before it became impossible to vote on the issue with a show of hands. Unless of course people could bring their hands in with them in a baggie and hold them up.
I know what you’re thinking… “14 more of these stupid fucking examples of what’s more likely to happen than winning the lottery? No fucking way, I can’t take 14 more.”
There’s nothing interesting about finding four leaf clovers, which incidentally they put at 10,000 to 1… making it twice as likely that you’ll cut off your arm with a chainsaw than finding one, or being murdered (18,000 to 1). Math was never my strong suit but it appears that the likelihood of being murdered with a chainsaw is almost 50/50 on any given day.
Here’s one that I find interesting. The odds of writing a New York Times Best Seller. 220 to 1. Now that’s just fucking stupid. They are saying that 1 out of every 220 books becomes a best seller?
Have they read my books?
Obviously not. My money is still on me being involved in a chainsaw mishap over The Ball Washer rocketing up the charts.
Ironically they have the odds of dating a super model at 88,000 to 1. So even if you write a best seller you’re still not likely to bang a hot chick. Sort of takes away a lot of motivation. This article is getting less and less fun to read.
They have an asteroid apocalypse at 12,500 to 1. I’m starting to think that these odds are not the odds of something happening on any given day. In fact, I’m not even halfway through this list and it’s obvious that they are full of shit and just making these numbers up. I need to skip ahead a bit before I give up on the whole thing.
Ok, here are a couple I can buy into. They put the odds of being a movie star at 1,505,000 to 1, President at 10,000,000 to 1 and the odds of being an astronaut at 12,100,000. Seems equal parts accurate and cruel. Spending months spinning around in that thing that mimics various g-forces and you get significantly less ass than something you could have been 8 times more likely to have done. I wonder if movies like Apollo 13 fuck up the stats.
If you’re like me you’re pretty fed up with this. Obviously these numbers are completely subjective and therefore are no help in gauging how relatively few people actually get a positive return on their lottery ticket investment.
Here are a couple that bring it into clearer focus: Odds of getting a royal flush in your first hand of poker are 1 in 649,740, picking a perfect NCAA bracket 1 in 13,460,000.
Picking the winning lottery ticket? 1 in 175,000,000.
Still want to waste that $1?
There is unfortunately a good probability that you do because you’re stupid and it’s no wonder that you’re going to end up cutting off one or both of your arms.