It Probably Couldn’t Happen to You

The winners of the $640 million jackpot, bonanza, I'm gonna quit my job, burn this office park to the ground, and build a water park lottery bought their tickets in Maryland, Kansas, and Illinois according to the Wall Street Journal. Though we won't know who the lucky (or not so lucky, depending on how much credence you give to TIME's sobering rundown of how truly awful even non-Shirley Jackson lotteries are) winners are until 11:00 pm tonight, rest assured that they will all probably do something stupid with the money, like accept it all in lump payments and build garish manses in Chevy Chase, Topeka, and Skokie, respectively.

The odds that you could have won the lottery were somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 176 million, according to the lottery officials. To put those odds in perspective, you'll probably be murdered by a vengeful vending machine (1 in 112 million), become a terrible president (1 in 10 million), or die from being left-handed and trying foolishly to use right-handed products (1 in 4.4 million). Dying from forgetting that you're left-handed seems like a pretty improbable act of stupidity, but then again, so is buying a lottery ticket, according to the Wall Street Journal, whose galley of laboring economists figures that the "expected value" of a $1 lottery ticket was 69 cents, and that on larger jackpots — like the current one and the fictional one that Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda shared — the expected payout is drastically lower as a result of multiple winners.

No bother, though — you'd probably still be really excited about winning the lottery, even if it meant being called relentlessly by strangers who saw you in the paper and being hounded by an avaricious Stanley Tucci or Rosie Perez. Hopefully you wouldn't do anything like hand out subway tokens or take a bunch of snotty kids to Yankee Stadium, because if you won a big $640 million jackpot, you'd be obligated at least to put your money to a creative use. Such as...

  • Building a car entirely out of pure gold and driving it until the engine melted, at which point you'd get out in your swimsuit and frolick in the scalding metal, screaming, "I don't care about permanent scarring — I'm so rich I can afford plastic surgery!"
  • Buying all of the puppies everywhere and letting them run free in FAO Schwarz. Then you'd buy all the toys for your new herd of puppies, even those toys that children in the store had already selected for themselves, teaching them all a very important life lesson about how the economy really works.
  • Offering Rick Santorum an amount of money he couldn't refuse so you could run male pregnancy experiments on him in your new gilded basement. If you're squeamish about blood, however, you could always turn the former Senator into your personal dog walker, making him wear a hot pink shirt that read, "Real men like to booty dance" and carry around a boom box that played only Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back."
  • Buying a minor league baseball team and making all the players play naked.
  • Building a Scrooge McDuck pool (coincidentally, the first thing that pops up today when you news Google "scrooge mcduck" is news about the lottery), but instead of filling it with your gold, fill it with the imported tears of mink kittens. You don't ask why they've been crying because it will only spoil your bathing.
  • Eating out every night at really fancy restaurants, where, right after you get the bill, you run out away, though not so fast that the restaurant staff can catch you. When someone does inevitably catch you, you turn around and throw a wad of cash in their face, screaming, "Just kidding!"
  • Hoarding your money for the rest of your life. On your deathbed, you give someone you trust instructions to cash out your bank account, stuff all the money under your pyre, invite the local television crews to tape the funeral of the famously reclusive mega-millions winner, and then have that trusted person light you and all of your money on fire.
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride over Central Park and tossing out a whole bunch of tampons onto a crowd unsuspecting joggers.

These are all the things you probably could do, then again, winning the lottery hasn't happened to you this year and probably will never happen to you. Ever.

Ticks in 3 States Share Mega Millions Jackpots [WSJ]

15 Things More Likely to Happen than Winning Mega Millions [Daily Beast]

10 Fun, Weird, Sometimes Disturbing Factoids About the $640 Million Mega Millions Lottery