The Odds of a Cow Making the Super Bowl are Astronomical (And Plague-Like)

So I stumbled across this site called Book of Odds, and their basic premise is that they are the “world’s first reference on the odds of everyday life.”  And that’s exactly what they do–calculate the odds on important, life-altering stuff.

Why?  Because the site is staffed by a plethora of statistically-inclined math-loving geeks with too much time on their hands, whose single purpose in life is to show off their intellectual superiority over the common mouth-breathing homosapien.

Honestly though, the site does have some interesting tidbits of information–including one Super Bowl related.  Because I don’t know about you all, but I’ve often wondered what the odds are that a cow will make it to the Super Bowl.

Confused?  You should be.

First off, even though a football is known as a “pigskin,” it is in fact made of cow leather.  So a couple of the writers at Book of Odds set out to figure exactly what the odds are for a cow to be used in the big game.

Hang on to your protractors, because here we go…

  • there are 66.2 million adult cattle in the United States
  • about 1 in 2 are slaughtered every year
  • according to Wilson Sporting Goods, the official supplier of footballs to the NFL, 35,000 cow hides are used to manufacture regulation NFL footballs
  • using a ton of math too complicated for my Texas Instruments calculator, Book of Odds figured out that NFL teams must use 11,520 footballs every season, followed by another 450 in the playoffs, plus an extra 76 specifically for the Super Bowl

Finally, the delicate geniuses tally everything up thusly…

We found earlier that the hide of one cow can make about 20 footballs, which translates to 35,000 hides a year going into the manufacture of regulation NFL footballs. With 1 in 1.99 adult cattle being slaughtered every year, 1 in 952.4 cows that are slaughtered will see their hides turn into an NFL football. Of those, 1 in 58.11 will be used in an NFL game. And of those, about 1 in 158.5 will make it to the Super Bowl. Multiplying all those numbers through, what are the odds a randomly chosen cow will see its hide made into a football used in the Super Bowl?

If you guessed 1 in 17,420,000, then you are either an idiot savant, an MIT grad, that weird dude from A Beautiful Mind, or a goddamn witch.

And if you think that 1 in 17,420,000 sounds familiar, it’s because those odds are very similar to the odds of catching the plague, which are 1 in 17,610,000.

Or about the same odds that the Lions reach the Super Bowl this decade.  Rimshot!

And that my friends, is called ending on a high note.

[Book of Odds, Image]


About the author: Jeff Greenwell


Jeff Greenwell is the writer/editor of Last Angry Fan. Jeff has been known to rock a Speedo while belting out Robert Goulet tunes from his front porch, and in his spare time he enjoys capturing and training feral goats to be his minions. Also known to dig a nice brick of cheese from time to time.



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