25 May, 2010

The Bulgarian Lottery Coincidence

In 1986, Evelyn Marie Adams won the New Jersey lottery for the second time in four months, an outcome called a '1 in 17 trillion' long shot in a New York Times. They were probably a bit out on those stats!In September of last year it was the regular lottery draw in Bulgaria. The winning numbers were drawn live on television: 4, 15, 23, 24, 35 and 42.

Everyone was stunned by the result.

Why? Because these were the exact same numbers as per the previous draw! What a coincidence.

"Was it a conspiracy or some form of cheating?" everyone wanted to know. Especially when they heard that there were 18 winners, - yet no one had picked the correct numbers the previous time the numbers had come up.

Everything was checked and double checked and an official declared that, 'manipulation was impossible.'

All sorts of mathematical odds were produced. One mathematician in Bulgaria, Michail Konstantinov, said that the same numbers being selected twice in a row was one in four million. Not sure how he arrived at this as we are told in the UK that to pick out six numbers from 49, in one draw, is odds of 13,983,816 to one. Perhaps Michail's decimal point was in the wrong place or something.

Whatever the odds, it was an unusual happening to say the least. The Bulgarian mathematician did go on to say that, 'coincidences do happen.'

A spokesperson for the Bulgarian lottery said, "This is happening for the first time in the 52 year history of the lottery. We are absolutely stunned to see such a freak coincidence but it did happen."

The problem with statistics, when considering if they are a meaningful coincidence, is that 72.4% of stats are made up!

For UK lottery players: Up to date stats (at 21-05-10) show that the numbers which are drawn most are: 38, 23, 11, 44, 31 and 43. But whichever numbers you pick, it's still odds of nearly 14 million to one to win the jackpot.

Further Reading:
Bizarre Chinese Lottery Coincidence
Senior Citizen's Lottery Agony

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5 comments:

  1. Incredible. I enjoy stories like these, that have such significant odds!

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  2. I like how four of those lottery numbers are also the numbers from Lost...

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  3. But where do you get the stat that 72.4% of stats are made up? You made that up!

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  4. These are the same numbers in the sequence of the TV series "Lost," which are:

    4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

    In Bulgarian lottery, only two numbers that were drawn are not part of the sequence: 24 and 35.

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