The Mega Millions lottery is once again making headlines with a current jackpot worth $1.28 billion. It’s the kind of thing that’s nice to daydream about winning in-between scrolling TikTok and ignoring your boss, because of course you won’t win it. The chances are indistinguishable from zero. These jackpots are the real world equivalent of a loot box, except the odds are 1,000 times worse and everyone loves them.
Sometimes the numbers get so big they stop meaning anything. A Pokémon-inspired NFT game was hacked for over $500 million in crypto this year. There’s a telescope a million miles from Earth taking pictures of a gas giant 1,000 light years farther away. Super Mario World is one billion seconds old today. And then there is the Mega Millions jackpot which is already the third-largest in the history of state lotteries.
A winner would get $1,471,264 every two weeks for 29 years, or roughly $747 million minus taxes if they took the lump sum. That’s less than 1% of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ net worth, but it would still have been more than enough to buy Eidos Montreal from Square Enix and make them release a new Deus Ex. The odds of that actually happening, however, remain ever not in your favor.
To be more specific, they are currently one in 303 million. Again, numbers that big are hard to make sense of, but let’s try. Here’s a bunch of extremely rare stuff in video games that will happen well before you ever lay hands on a winning lottery ticket.
Some players have run Destiny 2’s Vault of Glass raid over 200 times without ever getting its coveted Vex Mythoclast Exotic. Despite what has seemed like an impossible task for them, everyone has a roughly one in 100 shot at getting it on their first try.
You even have a better chance of getting the Sword of Kings in Earthbound the first time you kill a Starman Super than winning this lottery. In fact, you have a better chance of getting it three times in a row. It has a drop rate of one in 128. I’ve played the game a dozen times and only ever got it once.
The odds of getting Genshin Impact’s 5-Star Pyro Diluc are also better. The rare fan-favorite has a roughly 1-in-166 drop rate. In fact, most games with gacha mechanics are incredibly generous by comparison. Each pull in Genshin Impact costs only slightly more than a $2 Mega Millions ticket.
Princess Peach is more likely to pull a Beam Sword out of her pocket in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The odds of that happening are one in 768. If she immediately pulled out a second one that would still have a higher probability than you winning the Mega Millions.
The Big Love Rocket, renamed the X-45 Heartbreaker last year, is one of the most infamously rare mounts in World of WarCraft. While figures like 1-2% were thrown around when it debuted during the 2006 “Love is in the Air” event, players estimated it to be much rarer, calculating a roughly one in 3,333 chance of dropping.
Shiny Pokémon hunters are notorious for spending days, weeks, and sometimes even longer hunting for the rarest creatures. Even that’s a cake walk by comparison. Shiny odds are one in 4,096. Some players whisper about the mind-blowing prospect of getting two back-to-back. The odds of that would be better.
Let’s stick with Pokémon for a second. When the Pokémon trading card game began in 1996 there were only four rarities, including foils. Now there are all sorts of other layers of uniqueness. As just one example, the Astral Radiance set that was released earlier this year included 18 Secret Rare cards with a gold finish. The odds of getting one are estimated at one in 128. The odds of getting a specific one in a given pack, like Hisuian Samurott VSTAR, are estimated at one in 1,178. You’ll pull that trick off twice before becoming a billionaire.
The most common comparison for lottery odds is getting struck by lighting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate those odds at less than one in a million. But the odds of being struck by lightning inside Minecraft are even more dramatic. In a map with 16,384 blocks and a one in 5,000 chance of lightning striking one of them during a storm there’s a mind-bogglingly low chance of one in 81 million of the lightning striking the player. Still a better bet than Mega Millions.
Still, someone out there is likely to win the lottery eventually. There’s over 100 million households in this country, and some will no doubt buy dozens of tickets if not more. And their odds are still better than finding one of the rarest pieces of loot in Borderlands. In July a Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands player found a class mod that only had a one in 85 billion chance of dropping. The next Mega Millions drawing is tonight at 11:oo p.m. ET.