What Are the Odds? 50 Facts Exploring the Chances of Everyday Events

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26 Diversity among Old West Cowboys

Diversity among Old West Cowboys

During the American West of the 1800s, up to one in four Texan cowboys were African Americans, and the number of Mexican cowboys was even greater.


27. The chances of unintentionally ingesting even a single spider while sleeping throughout our lifetime are close to zero.


28. Jimmy the Greek Snyder placed a $10,000 bet at 17-1 odds on Harry Truman defeating Thomas Dewey in the 1948 election, based on the notion that “American women didn’t trust men with a mustache,” as Dewey had one. In today’s dollars, that bet netted him over $1.7 million.


29. The farther back you sit on an airplane, the higher your odds of survival in the event of a crash. Passengers near the tail of the plane have approximately a 40% higher chance of surviving a crash compared to those in the first few rows at the front.


30. When consuming cocaine, the risk of having a heart attack in the next hour increases by 24 times, or 2,400%.


31 Lunar Bet Pays Off

Lunar Bet Pays Off

In 1960, David Threlfall placed a £10 bet at odds of 1,000/1 that a man would walk on the moon before the end of the decade. Initially considered foolish by bookies, nine years later David collected £10,000.


32. Benford’s Law states that in natural sets of numbers (such as river lengths, city populations, and financial transactions), the probability of the first number is not even. There is a 30% chance for a number to start with 1, but only a 5% chance for it to start with 9. This law is so reliable that it is used to detect fraud.


33. The probability of dying within one year decreases from birth, reaching its lowest point around age 10, and increases each year thereafter.


34. Iceland has the highest number of authors per capita, with one in ten Icelanders publishing a book in their lifetime.


35. One in four parents in the US are unmarried, and these parents spend less money on their children compared to married individuals or single parents, even after adjusting for income, family size, race, age, and education.


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36 Ruptured Aneurysm Statistics

Ruptured Aneurysm Statistics

Ruptured brain aneurysms are relatively rare. About one in 50 people develops a brain aneurysm, but most do not rupture. Ruptures occur in approximately 30,000 people in the US each year, and 40% of those cases result in death within 24 hours, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.


37. If you haven’t tried sushi by age 35, there is a 95% chance you never will. As we age, we become less open to novelty.


38. The average US driver will file a collision claim approximately once every 17.9 years. Therefore, if you obtained your license at age 16, it is highly likely that you will experience some kind of crash by the time you’re 34. Over the course of a typical driving lifetime, you should have a total of three to four accidents.


39. The odds of your father’s sperm meeting your mother’s egg to create you are 1 in 4 quadrillion. The odds of you existing as yourself, traced back to your first ancestors, are 10^2,685,000.


40. The odds of a driver hitting a deer in West Virginia are 1 in 41, by far the highest in the United States.


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41 Dinosaur Pee Water

Dinosaur Pee Water

The probability of you drinking a glass of water that contains a molecule of water that also passed through a dinosaur is nearly 100%, or, in other words, “dinosaur pee.”


42. In 2010, Israel’s weekly state lottery drew the exact same six numbers as the draw three weeks earlier, an event statisticians said had a one in four trillion chance.


43. One in 5,000 babies is born with imperforate anus, a condition where they lack a functioning rectum, which requires surgical correction by the hospital.


44. If you contract and recover from measles as a baby, you have a 1 in 600 chance of developing a terminal brain inflammation condition after 6–15 years, or a 1 in 10,000 chance.


45. A study of 11 years of base jumping showed that each jump carried a 1 in 2,317 chance of death, compared to 1 in 101,083 for skydiving. The annual fatality risk per person for base jumpers is even higher at 1 in 60, and 72% of them witnessed death or serious injury.


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46 Lightning Strike Odds

Lightning Strike Odds

The probability of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is 1 in 15,300.


47. While it is theoretically possible for two snowflakes to be atomically identical, the number of possible snowflake structures exceeds the number of atoms in the universe, so the odds are effectively zero.


48. You have a better chance of being killed by a falling coconut than winning the Powerball.


49. The odds of hitting a kangaroo with your vehicle in Australia are so high that most farmers and rural residents have fitted metal ‘roo bars’ to deflect kangaroo impacts.


50. The odds of having the same fingerprint as someone else are 1 in 64 billion. Given that there have been over 108 billion people who have ever lived on Earth, it is likely that many individuals, either deceased or alive, share the same fingerprint.


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