Lottery number is a procedure for distributing something (usually money or prizes) among a group of people by lot or by chance. There are two kinds of lottery games: scratch-off and draw games. With scratch-off games, you simply purchase a ticket and tell the lottery retailer what numbers or symbols to select. With draw games, such as Mega Millions and Powerball, you have to purchase tickets within a certain time frame to be eligible for the bi-weekly drawing.
But are there ways to increase your chances of winning by selecting a more likely set of numbers? A few math-based strategies exist, but they don’t always work. A simple analysis of past lottery drawings can help you identify “hot” or “cold” numbers, but the odds of a particular number being drawn don’t change, even when the same number has been picked twice in a row.
The Register’s investigation into lottery drawings with identical numbers was prompted by Eddie Tipton, an ex-Multi-State Lottery Association security worker who was convicted of lottery fraud in 2017. He said he warned his bosses in 2006 that computer software he wrote to randomly pick winners had a flaw that could lead to duplicate string of numbers, including in consecutive draws.
Grand Valley State University mathematics professor Bob Austin says the same-number results the Register has identified appear to be “very close to being statistically significant.” He adds that lottery officials have rigorous rules in place to prevent rigging the results of a drawing. But he says those rules are not foolproof, and some results may be the result of “asinine coincidence.”