Asteroids vs. Lottery: What is More Likely?


Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik claims:

“Each of us is 750 times more likely to be killed by an asteroid than to win this weekend’s lottery.”

So lets do some math:

Lottery odds

1 in 146,107,962.00
1 in 175,711,536

depending on the lotto

From USA today:

From the survey, published last month in the Astronomical Journal, the researchers set only 1-in-5,000 odds of a city-size asteroid smacking into Earth and killing hundreds of millions of people sometime in the next century — down, they said, from the roughly 1-in-1,500 odds set by earlier estimates.

And lets not forget this guy:

Asteroid Watch: Odds of 2029 Collision Stuck at 1-in-40

So yes, you are hundreds of times more likely to get killed by a asteroid than you are likely to win the lotto if you bought one and only one lottery ticket. Not exactly the most comforting of thoughts. Yet most of our asteroid watching is driven by the chary organization B612.

We have basically ignored the need to find the estimated 1,100 (1 kilometer+ in diameter) destructive asteroids orbiting near the earth. A 1 kilometer dia asteroid traveling at 30km/sec and made of iron will likely cause a ring of destruction almost 1,000 kilometers in diameter.

Seems as if in 2004 some astronomers thought we had a 1 in 4 chance of being hit by an asteroid.

The Sunday Times, Mission: to destroy it before it gets us Jonathan Leake, Science Editor, December 24, 2006,,1950258,00.html
USA Today 01/01/2002 – Updated 12:33 PM ET Scientists argue over odds of asteroid hitting Dan Vergano
Wired, Jan. 13, 2004: Duck!, Tony Long, 02:00 AM Jan, 13, 2007


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