Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Some odds

Allen Wastler

By Allen Wastler
Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Posted on Mar 14, 2019

Are you thinking about luck on this St. Patrick’s Day?

What are the odds of finding a four-leaf clover? About 1 in 10,000 according to a Daily Telegraph report quoting a University of Sydney mathematician.1

How about being the sole winner of the lottery? That depends on the game and number of players, obviously, but you can probably start with a baseline of 1 in 175 million for Powerball, according to the executive director of the American statistical Association.2

Are slot machines a better bet? Generally the odds are the number of spinning “reels” times the number of symbols on each reel. So a slot machine with five reels and five symbols on each of those reels is offering odds of 1 in 3,125. Of course, the slot machine’s shift into the digital realm has drastically stretched those odds, as this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.3

How about making a hole-in-one in golf? That’s 1 in 12,000 for the average golfer, according to research done for Golf Digest. (The magazine compared that to bowling a perfect game of 300, which they put at 1 in 11,500 for the average bowler).4

Bad stuff happens too.

The odds of a tax audit? One in 143, according to USA Today, which polled mathematicians and tax experts.5

The odds you’ll be struck by lightning in your lifetime? One in 13,500, says the National Weather Service.

The chance that a 20-year-old will be too sick or injured to work sometime during their career?

Well, more than one in four 20-year-olds become disabled before reaching retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration.6 That’s why people should think about disability income insurance (hey, this is a MassMutual article, after all).

Do you know your number? Calculator: How much disability income insurance would I need?

Okay, we don’t want to be a downer on a festive day. So we’ll leave you with this…

About one in every 30 infants born in the United States is a twin, according to the most recent review of twin births by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

More from MassMutual…

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1 “Woman Finds 21 Four-Leaf Clovers,” Daily Telegraph, Aug. 11, 2014.

2 “A Statistician’s View: What are Your chances of Winning the Powerball Lottery,” Huffington Post, Jan. 7, 2016.

3 “Odds of Winning Get Longer,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 15, 2011.

4 “The Unlikely Ace/300 Game,” Golf Digest, Oct. 6, 2014.

5 USA Today, “Your odds of facing an IRS audit are 1-in143,” March 6, 2017.

6 Social Security Administration, Publication No. 05-10570, January 2017.


The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel. Opinions expressed by those interviewed are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.