Ever wonder how it would feel to become a billionaire overnight? Well, the man who ranks #5 on our top 250 richest people in the world list, Warren Buffett, thought you might like a shot at making that happen. That’s why he and his company Berkshire Hathaway are joining with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and his company Quicken Loans for a little college-ball fun. Late last month, Buffett and Gilbert announced that they will be offering an astounding $1 billion to anyone who can produce a perfect March Madness bracket.
Sound simple? If making a correct guess 64 consecutive times without fail sounds simple, then absolutely. But for most people (everybody) these odds are anything but easy. According to experts, the odds of actually producing a perfect March Madness bracket are about 1 in 9 quintillion. Not sure how big 9 quintillion is? It’s a 9 with 18 zeroes tacked on to the back of it. Not only not so simple, it’s also statistically close to impossible.
Luckily for college basketball fans, these odds only represent a bracket that was marked completely at random. If a bracket is filled out with knowledge of the teams entering the tournament, along with a handle on other stats, the odds improve to about 1 in 128 billion. Not the best odds by any stretch, but not nearly as astronomical as 1 in 9 quintillion.
Buffett and Gilbert addressed the possibility of multiple winners. If two people can correctly submit a perfect bracket (Are the planets aligning this year? No? Didn’t think so) the $1 billion will be split evenly between the two contestants.
While the odds for submitting a perfect bracket may not be in your favor, it’s still not a bad idea to enter the contest anyways. The top 20 contestants to submit the most accurate bracket will be awarded $100,000 to put towards buying, refinancing, or remodeling a home. Why not give it a shot? Entering the contest is free, so there’s absolutely nothing to lose. Who knows, you could even be the lucky $1 billion winner (or more reasonably, a $100,000 winner) but you’ll never know unless you try. The deadline to enter the contest is March 3rd.
In the meantime, as you conjure up your perfect brackets with covetous hope, here is a sobering list of 10 things that are very unlikely to occur, yet are statistically more likely to happen to you than winning Buffett’s contest.
10. Get Struck By Lightning This Year
Odds: 1 In 500,000
Each year, an estimated 264,000 people around the world are struck by lightning, with a fatality rate of about 9%. In the United States, an average of 51 people are killed by lightning each year, making it the second most common weather-related cause of death for the country.
Knowing that the odds of being struck by lightning are much greater than creating a perfect March Madness bracket may not be a very hopeful prospect, but don’t panic; staying inside of buildings or cars and avoiding tall trees, open fields and rounds of golf during thunder storms will definitely lower the odds of being struck.
9. Become a Movie Star
Odds: 1 In 1.5 Million
Lightning strikes are far from fortunate, but if it’s any consolation, a person’s odds of becoming a movie star are also relatively high when compared to Warren Buffett’s challenge. Sure, being that one in 1.5 million people that actually makes it big in the acting world may not seem like the best of odds, but these numbers don’t factor in a difference between people who actually consider themselves actors and people who hung up their acting shoes for the first and final time after their debut as Ornament #4 in their kindergarten Christmas play.
Much like how people with college basketball knowledge increase their chances in the March Madness bracket, people who are exceptional actors have a much greater likelihood of becoming famous.
8. Play In The NBA Immediately After Graduating High School
Odds: 1 In 6.8 Million
As a high school basketball player, being good enough to be picked up by a college that plays in March Madness is a dream come true. Only about 1 in 32 high school basketball players end up continuing their hoop dreams on a college team.
If the odds of playing at a university aren’t that daunting when compared to some of the other numbers on this list, why not take it to the next level and skip out on the whole college ball experience and shoot straight for the NBA? Maybe it’s because only 1 in 6.8 million people are given a shot to play for a professional team immediately after graduation. We can’t all be as good as Kobe or LeBron.
For those who aren’t gifted on the court, Mr. Buffet’s cool $1 billion is probably feeling more realistic, despite the numbers. After all, not everyone can dunk, but anyone can make a series of guesses.
7. Become The President Of The United States
Odds: 1 In 10 Million
In the past 225 years, there have only been 44 presidents of the United States. Taking into consideration the number of people who have lived and died in the US throughout those 225 years, 44 individuals are a relatively few drops in a very large bucket.
The odds of any given person born in the US becoming president are about 1 in 10 million. Much like basketball, not everyone has the political experience to even consider running for mayor of a mid-sized town, let alone president. Once again, it may feel like scoring a perfect March Madness bracket is more in reach than presidency. It takes a lot less work, that’s for sure.
6. Get Attacked By A Shark
Odds: 1 In 11.5 Million
After the release of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975, the fear of being attacked by a shark rose higher than a leaping great white breaching in the bay of Cape Town, South Africa. It’s a shame that so many people were scared out of their wits about something that will never happen to the vast majority of humans on the planet.
According to the numbers, only about 1 in 11.5 million people experience a shark attack. As long as you’re not spending most of your time pretending to be a seal in shark infested waters, you’ll probably be fine.
5. Be Canonized
Odds: 1 In 20 Million
If winning Mr. Buffett’s money doesn’t work out, there’s always sainthood. With the odds of canonization being about 1 in 20 million, becoming a saint is twice as unlikely as becoming the US president.
Sure, there are many, many requirements for becoming canonized (having died being one of them) but 1 in 20 million seems like a cakewalk compared to 1 in 9 quintillion.
Sticking with the bracket instead of dedicating your life to saintly devotion? We don’t blame you.
4. Get Killed by a Mountain Lion
Odds: (1 in 32 Million)
Are the odds of shark attacks and lightning strikes killing your 1$ billion buzz? Think of it as a reminder of how unlikely these things are. If you’re plagued by the fear of being mauled by a mountain lion, just remember that the odds of it happening are just 1 in 32 million.
If you ever encounter a cougar while out on a hike, just remember to raise your arms to appear bigger than you actually are, and be sure to make as much noise as possible. It’ll help keep these numbers down.
3. Win $1,000 In McDonald’s Monopoly Game
Odds: 1 In 36.9 Million
Ever peel off a Monopoly piece from your Mcdonald’s fry holder to discover you had won $1,000 cash? We didn’t think so. The odds of this happening are 1 in 36.9 million. At least you still had your fries!
2. Win The Powerball Jackpot
Odds: 1 In 175 Million
Often being cited as one of the most unlikely fortunes to happen to a person, the odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot are 1 in 175 million.
The worst part: 175 million is much, much smaller than 9 quintillion. Even the odds of a person scoring the perfect bracket because they had extensive basketball knowledge is significantly less likely to happen than winning the Powerball Jackpot. Still feeling lucky?
1. Have Your Home Get Hit By A Meteorite
Odds: 1 In 3.9 Trillion
The odds of a meteorite striking your place of residency are 1 in 3.9 trillion, which makes it safe to assume it will probably never happen.
Does this mean we should give up on the idea of scoring a perfect March Madness bracket since a meteorite will hit our homes before a perfect bracket is created? Absolutely not. Remember, the odds of a person with basketball smarts filling a perfect bracket are 1 in 128 billion, so if you’ve got the knowledge, you actually have better odds winning Mr. Buffett’s $1 billion than having your pad get flattened by a hunk of space rock. Hurray!
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