Thursday, October 18, 2007
Lotteries give some people hope that they will escape their existing financial life and become millionaires. One of the older lotteries in Canada is Lotto 6/49, where for two bucks ($2) you can win as much as 54.3 Million Dollars! (a record jackpot from 2005)
The chances of winning in Lotto 6/49 is one in 13,983,816, or almost 14 million. Most people, including me, don't have a good visceral feel for how big a number that really is, or what kind of odds those really are. When a city bus was recently barreling down on me, I thought of a way to put it in perspective: your chance of winning versus your chance of dying.
Working with the latest data from Statistics Canada, Canada's population in 2006 was 32,623,500 people. The death rate was 237,931 in a 2006/2007 evaluation year. That means that roughly 1 in every 140 people in Canada die every year. That's pretty good odds.
Scaling the odds of death in Canada to a one-week basis, that is 4563 people dying every week. Your chance (if you're in Canada) of one of those people being YOU is 1 in 7149.
To put this in perspective, if you buy a weekly ticket for the lottery, the chances of you dying by the end of the week are almost 2000 times higher than the chances of you winning! (1956x higher)
You may not live in Canada, you may not play Lotto 6/49, but if you're playing the lottery, your chances probably aren't much different.
Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com