"You're more likely to die on your way to buy a lottery ticket than
you are to actually win the lottery."
Is this true? Is there any statistics out with the number of people
who died on their way to buy a lottery.
My personal experience suggest otherwise. I know people who have won a
lottery. But I don't know anyone who died on their way to buy a
lottery ticket. A conclusion based on personal experience is wrong
because of the tiny sample size. So anyone has come across any
statistics involving a country or state?
You learned it from whom? A blurb on Web?
This epends on how far you have to "drive a car" to buy a lottery
ticket; the type of lottery ticket, where the store is located, etc.
My guess this is true, on average, for "Mega-Millions" tickets.
The annual death rate for people aged 15-60 is about 0.4%, but we can
rule out all the home and hospitalized deaths as they would not be "on
your way". By far the largest cause of death likely to apply for
being "on your way" would be a fatal motor vehicle accident, with
about one death per 3 million people per day. However, those figures
include people who die as a result of the accident up to a month
The next closest death rate would be from heart attacks or strokes,
but there is a fairly large gap. Although the per-day death rate is
greater than motor vehicle accidents, almost all such deaths occur at
home or in hospital. The chance of dying from this while on the way
to buy a ticket should be no more than one in 20 million or so,
possibly quite a bit lower.
If you buy only one ticket and consider only the probability of
winning the top prize, the claim is quite possibly true.
> I learnt this today.
> "You're more likely to die on your way to buy a lottery ticket than
> you are to actually win the lottery."
Yes but either way your troubles are over, so it's still a good bet.
No specific statistics but is not hard to do a rough check.
Assume that you will not die in the next hour unless you
are in an auto accident (a very good assumption for most people
who are in a state to go somewhere a buy a lottery ticket.)
Assume that it takes x hours to go for the ticket and even if you
go on foot you can use the automobile stats (after all pedestrians
do get hit). Assume that your chance of winning the lottery
is 1/10,000,000. The chance of dying in an automobile accident
is 1/2,000,000 per hour. So if you take more that 12 minutes to get
the ticket, you have a better change of dying in a car crash, than
winning the lottery.
This is very rough (e.g. the fact that most fatalities happen on
the highway means the above is wrong. and the chance of "winning"
depends both on the lottery and the defintion of "winning") but it
does show that the
"You're more likely to die on your way to buy a lottery ticket
you are to actually win the lottery."
- William Hughes
There is a trap here, not that anyone in this thread has
fallen into it, but this sounds a lot like
"You're more likely to die /as a result of/ going to buy
a lottery ticket than you are to actually win the lottery."
and that is unlikely to be true.
About the only thing I can imagine using the first piece of
information for is making a costs-benefits analysis of going
to buy a lottery ticket. In that case, though, you should be
more interested in the /difference/ in your chance of dying
between buying the lottery ticket and not buying the lottery
If we assume very reasonably that your chance of death is
unaffected by your purchase of a lottery ticket, then it
washes out of the analysis. And we would say that you were
NOT more likely to die as a result of going to buy the
However, if you had to swim a piranha-infested river in
order to buy your ticket, your chance of dying on the way
definitely should be noted when deciding whether or not
The information presented above does NOT advise against
buying a lottery ticket in the slightest way. It just
sounds that way, to me, at least.
In the UK, there are about 30 million cars. On average, a car drives
about 12,000 miles per year. And every year about 4,000 people die in
traffic accidents. That means there is about one death in traffic
accidents per 90 million miles driven. Your chance of winning the
lottery with a single ticket is about one in 13 million. That means
the chance that driving seven miles kills a person is about the same
as the chance that buying one ticket makes you a lottery winner. There
is of course the chance that you kill someone else, and the chance
that you get killed on the way while not driving yourself, i guess
that evens itself out. So if you drive seven miles to buy a single
ticket, chances will be about equal. But many people will buy more
than one ticket, and many will drive less than seven miles, so I
suspect the statement is false. Reasonably close, but false.
On the other hand, your chance of dying in a UK traffic accident this
week is about (60 million citizens) / (4,000 accidents) * 52 weeks or
about one in 780,000. You need to buy about 18 tickets this week for
the same chance to win the lottery.
Interesting order-of-magnitude calculation, but...
I buy my lottery tickets (more precisely, I DON'T buy them) at the 7-11
about a block away. I'm more likely to die of a heart attack than an
Anyway, I commute by train, not car. That should give me a big leg up,
according to your calculation. Hmmm... but I live in Chatsworth, where
22 people died in a train crash a couple of years ago (I was ON that
train, but got off at Chatsworth; the Metrolink met a freight train
head-on just AFTER Chatsworth). So maybe not.
The point being, there are many more ways to die than in a traffic
Another saying I've heard is that the Mafia used to pay off on its
numbers racket better than California pays off on its lottery. Sad, if
true; unfortunately, I don't know what the payoff was in that racket.
But of course, when the Proposition enabling the lottery was passed, it
included a provision that a certain percentage HAD to go to education,
and the legislature couldn't get around that by reducing the amount
paid to education. :-(
-- Ron Bruck