The Art of the Fail: A Quick Guide on Unsuccess Rates in America

Woman returning wedding ring
Woman returning wedding ring Karl Tapales / Getty Images

Rest assured that you’re not alone in failure, here’s a quick guide to some of life’s most common shortfalls. Take a peek at these unsuccess rates the next time you fail.



15%: Likelihood a condom will not prevent pregnancy.

17%: Couples who divorce by their fifth anniversary.

23%: Couples who divorce by their tenth anniversary.

50%: Small businesses that fail within the first four years.

95%: Harvard admission applications that get denied.

95%: VC-backed startups that fail to return on investment.

95%: Dieters who, in time, regain all their lost weight.

99.92%: High school football players who don’t play professionally.

3,000: Americans that lose their job each month.

10,000 to 1: Odds you’ll become famous.

This essay is part of our Art of the Fail series.