The Lottery Discussed
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Lynn's Birthday Ignored

I guess I'm not ignoring it since I'm about to say that today is my sister's birthday. I think she's 23. Tell her a joke.

We were talking about the lottery at rugby practice the other day (builds mental toughness, dontchaknow?) and it inspired me to go search out the odds... talking about Georgia's Big game (ironic because in 30 minutes I'm leaving for the fields 'cause we have a Big Game (tm) tonight against Clemson) here... So I found the odds on the Ga Lottery website and then did some idiot-level calculating to come up with how much you have to win when you win the big prize to break even.

So in the following chart, it says there are 9 different ways to win money in the Big Game, with varying prize values. The big prize, of course, changes weekly. The second column is the odds of winning that particular prize (1 in... so the odds of winning $100 are 1 in 7,705). The 3rd column is the number of times you'll win that prize while you wait to win the big prize, if you play 76,275,360 times (which is the amount you need to play to even the odds of winning the big prize). The 4th column is the total amount you'll win for that particular prize value (so you'll win $989,946 in $100 prizes).

Turns out you have to win $62.5 million when you win in order to come out even. So if you only win $15 million on your big prize you'll end up $47 million in the hole. Make sense?

So the key here is, when you win, win big. I was looking at a fact sheet from the lottery people and the biggest payout day ever for Cash-3 (another of their silly games) was when the numbers 777 came up. The biggest day for Cash-4 was when 2222 came up... which suggests rather strongly that people pick numbers in patterns. I also happen to think they'll pick based on things like birthdays and whatnot.

So... avoid patterns. Avoid using too many numbers 31 and under... Avoid using grouped numbers... you want 6 really ugly, spread out, gawky numbers that nobody else wants. I wonder if they publish the actual pick patterns people use?

And if somebody wants to point out all the logic errors I've made, feel free...

(Oh, by the way, I can't make any of the numbers the lottery corp provided jive with the figures they give for past prize winnings on their web site... I think I have a faulty brain.)

Amount of Prize Odds of Winning Number of Wins Total Winnings
$62,560,941.57 76,275,360 1.0 $62,560,942
$150,000 2,179,296 35.0 $5,250,000
$5,000 339,002 225.0 $1,124,999
$150 9,686 7,874.8 $1,181,221
$100 7,705 9,899.5 $989,946
$5 220 346,706.2 $1,733,531
$5 538 141,775.8 $708,879
$2 102 747,797.6 $1,495,595
$1 62 1,230,247.7 $1,230,248
    Total 76,275,360


Doug's thoughts on nothing in particular