Millions of Americans on Saturday will try their luck at winning the record-breaking $700 million Powerball jackpot. The odds of taking home the largest U.S. lottery jackpot in history are one in 292.2 million, officials said.
“You’re far more likely to die at a trip to the Grand Canyon than win the Powerball,” Amram Shapiro, a strategic statistician and author of The Book of Odds, told TIME. “That’s the scale of all of this. It’s fascinating. They’re buying a dream.” The 65-year-old from Massachusetts drew from a research trove of more than 400,000 statements of probability to write the 2014 reference source of statistics on everyday life.
“There’s a point of view that says people who buy lottery tickets are being foolish because the expected return on their investment is so poor,” Shapiro said. “But at the same time there is a kind of mass phenomenon that attracts people. What you’re really paying for is the right to dream about what it would be like to have your life utterly transformed by money.”
Despite the incredible odds, Shapiro said he was still drawn to wait in line Wednesday to purchase a Powerball ticket for his wife’s birthday. When asked why, he said: “To give her that dream.”
“Not because I had any statistical expectation of winning,” he added, “but because there’s value beyond the dollars.”
Here are 10 things that are more likely to occur than winning the lottery:
1. Dying from an asteroid strike: 1 in 74,817,414
2. Getting killed by a terrorist act in the United States: 1 in 10,000,000
3. Getting murdered during a trip to the Grand Canyon: 1 in 8,156,000
4. Dying from chronic constipation: 1 in 2,215,900
5. Becoming a movie star: 1 in 1,505,000
6. Getting struck by lightning: 1 in 1,101,000
7. Dying from a hornet, wasp or bee sting: 1 in 79,842
8. Bowling a 300 game: 1 in 11,500
9. Being the same height actor Hugh Jackman, who is 6-foot-2: 1 in 23.3
10. Becoming disabled, disfigured or killed by a parasite: 1 in 7.2