everybody

By CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman


What are the odds I'll pick you?
About 270,000,000:1.


Although the subjects of "Everybody Has a Story" are chosen completely at random, that doesn't mean everybody has an equal shot. The fact of the matter is, if you really want to be picked, you should probably pack your bags and move to Nye County, Nev.



Remember, first the dart has to hit your town or county, and Nye County is one of the biggest targets on the map, at 18,064 square miles.



Secondly, I have to pick your number out of the phone book. Nye County has very little competition in that regard. Only 17,781 people live there (1990 census).



I had my old math teacher calculate the odds. He said the chances of my picking you if you lived in Nye County are 1: 3,659,551. Compare that with the chances for someone who lives in New York City, where the odds are an astronomical 1: 90,721,400,360.



Depending where you live, your chances fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Unless you're unlisted. Then you have absolutely no chance.



If you don't want to move to Nye County, you might consider changing your last name from Anderson to Miller. Probably because I always flip a few pages before pointing, I've yet to pick a person whose last name begins with an A or B. The rest of the letters are fairly well represented. M seems to be the most common (although that could just be a fluke).



I've also noticed that names listed on the right side of the phone book tend to win out over the ones on the left (65 percent vs. 25 percent). I think it has to do with the fact that I'm right handed, and to get a good camera angle, it always seems to work better if I point to the page on the right.



The bottom line is if your last name is Aardvark, and you're on the left side of the phone book and you live in Manhattan, don't hold your breath. But you're still welcome to watch. The stories air every other Friday on The Early Show and the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. If you miss it, you can also catch it the following moring on The Saturday Early Show.



  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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