22 July 2015

What are the odds of being struck by lightning AND winning the lottery?

Lightning Strike Survivor Wins The Lottery

One lucky Canadian, who survived a lightning strike when he was just 14, has gone on to win a huge jackpot on the lottery, which he will be sharing with his co-worker. The odds of either such occurrence are stacked quite high, but the odds against both happening to the same man are staggeringly high. How high? Read on…

Lightning Strike Survivor Wins The Lottery

If you're a regular reader of our magazine you'll no doubt be familiar with our "What Are The Odds?" series where we compare the odds of winning the lottery with some of life's most improbable occurrences. These range from exotic ones such as the odds of being hit by a meteor or a falling coconut, the odds of being attacked by a shark, being dealt a royal flush or, simply, just the odds of you being born.

A Bolt From The Blue

Peter McCathie was just 14 when he was struck by lightning. He had been wading in the shallows of a lake at the time.

"I was trying to lock the boat up", he told the press, "it was a very sunny day, there was one big, white cloud in the sky and the lightning bolt came through the trees and hit me."

The odds of such a strike are unlikely, but hardly improbable. In Canada they're just under one in a million.

What makes the story stranger, however, is that Peter's daughter also had a similar experience working s a wilderness guide in the central province of Manitoba.

"They had pulled off the lake due to storms, so she was locking all the canoes, making sure they weren't going to get blown away, and she got hit by lightning."

One is left wondering if copper skulls run in the family.

Defying The Odds

So, the odds of a lightning strike are under one in a million, which is nothing compared with the odds of McCathie's lottery win – one in 13,983,816.

Putting it all together; the lightning strike, his daughter's lightning strike and the lottery win, the odds become virtually unfathomable. According to Sophie Leger, a Canadian maths professor consulted by the press, the odds of all three occurrences happening are 1 in 2.6 trillion.


Peter McCathie collected their prize, CAD $1 million, or approx. €704,882 / £493.530, with his co-worker Diana Miller.

The pair had been playing together for a year or so, but hadn't been banking on a big win. When asked about his good fortune McCathie replied "I honestly expected to get hit by lightning again first."

Peter McCathie plans a second honeymoon with his wife of 30 years. Diana Miller, meanwhile, is heading off to sunny Cancun to celebrate in true Mexican fiesta style.

It Just Goes To Show…

One in 2.6 trillion are virtually impossible odds to beat, but beaten they were. Compare that with the odds of winning tonight's €5 million Irish Lotto jackpot, 1 in 8,145,060, and suddenly that life-changing win doesn't seem so far-fetched.