16/09/2011 08:23 BST | Updated 15/11/2011 05:12 GMT

The Euromillions Winner Could Be You - But It Probably Won't Be

"IT COULD be you," the old National Lottery advert proclaimed, a huge disembodied hand hovering over your house in a manner which made poverty seem like the least of your worries.

You can't deny the lottery's logic - you could win. But you could also fall off the Empire State Building and land safely in a lorry full of your favourite flavour of jam, driven by someone who turns out to be the love of your life.

Your chance of winning the Euromillions jackpot with a single ticket is one in 116,531,800. Such large numbers are difficult to comprehend, so here's some context.

You'd have a better chance of calling a random phone number in Mexico (assuming each of the country's 112 million residents, regardless of age, had one phone) and getting the exact person you wanted. Buying another ticket increases your chances, but only by the same degree as giving the Mexican phone thing another go.

You have a greater chance of dying in the minutes between buying your ticket and the draw being made than you do of winning.

If you're aged 15-24, you have to buy your ticket 12 minutes or less before the draw to have more chance of winning than of dying in the meantime (based on 2008 death rates and population estimates for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics).

With 13 minutes to go, the odds of expiring overtake those of scooping the jackpot - though those are based on the entire population and you can improve your chances with a healthy diet, regular exercise and by avoiding dangerous pursuits like table tennis and lawn bowls.

Over 85s have to buy a ticket one second before the draw to have a better chance of winning than dying before it starts - two seconds before and the Grim Reaper is once again favourite, and his odds rapidly improve in the short time the draw itself takes.

Unfortunately, Euromillions ticket sales stop about 90 minutes before the draw, so you've always got more chance of kicking the bucket than winning the jackpot at the point of purchase.

British people have an estimated one in 685,000 chance of drowning in a bath and a one in 10,000,000 chance of being killed by lightning.

Helpfully, points out those odds are based on a lifetime, not any single day. So, the website says: "When you compare Euromillions odds with these specific odds for various grisly deaths, you can see that you're actually far more likely to win a lottery jackpot this Tuesday or Friday than you are to meet your maker in any (one) spectacular fashion."

So don't be put off.

If the metaphorical (rather than the actual) lightning strikes and you win the Euromillions, your life is nowhere near long enough for the probabilities to balance out.

You'd have to buy a lottery ticket twice a week for more than a million years for that - so, if it is you, just don't re-invest all your winnings on lottery tickets.