One in 176 million. Let me spell that out: 1 in 176,000,000.
But it's another number—$640,000,000—that's creating a feeding frenzy among ticket buyers hoping for a shot at that historic Mega Millions jackpot. (Heck, even a gorilla is playing.) The bounty crushes the previous record of $390 million. Then again, that 2007 number came when only a dozen states got to play. Now 42 states plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands are participating, which makes the bounty huge but the 1-in-176-million odds inconceivably long.
[Related: $25,000 donated to child in wheelchair]
A teachable math moment. Eight out of 10 conversations this week: "Did you know that you have more of a chance of X than of winning the lottery?" Yes, the glee surrounding the impossible odds has been as heady as the fantasy of winning itself. And people tend to put these odds in mighty grim terms, tallied by Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell, S.D.) mathematics department chair Mike Catalano:
Read More »from Y! Big Story: Mega Millions long odds and unreasoned dreams
"You are about 50