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The odds of getting struck by lightning is often compared to the odds of hitting the correct lottery numbers.

Calculating the odds of getting all lottery numbers correct is easy, because there are finite possibilities. But how does one compute the odds of getting hit by lightning? I've seen so many different answers, so I'd assume that they are calculating it differently.

I have also seen sources take an average using previous year(s) data, but shouldn't that be invalid because the odds is independent from time and trials? Is the term odds being misused here?

Furthermore, I have heard another variation where one has a higher chance of being struck by lightning on a sunny day than winning the lottery. Is this even possible: to be struck by lightning on a sunny day?

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I imagine it would be difficult to calculate. Estimating the probability based on previous data definitely seems to be the most feasible way of getting a probability. Depending on how you are taking the probability there are several considerations: area, population density, etc. and discrepancies between these considerations is probably what leads to different answers. –  EuYu Nov 29 '12 at 17:00

2 Answers 2

The answer to this question is not unique. You need data, and the answer would depend on the data. The word "odds" is misused because statisticians and mathematicians almost never use the word "odds". The sunny day and lighting scenario emphasized how negligible the probability of winning the lottery is i.e. getting stuck by on a sunny day is more likely.

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I think the chances of being struck by lightning are only based on most websites by calculating numbers through how many people have been struck and then making an operation between that and the amount of strikes per year in a storm. Possibly division or multiplication. Lightning is a force of nature, and therefore, can hardly be accurately calculated because its strikes come whenever and wherever they please, or think would be the best place to get to ground. So statistically speaking for the help of this information ,there is no true answer to this question other than some cleverly calculated estimation.

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