Lottery Draw That Produced 433 Winners in the Philippines To Be Investigated
The odds of winning a six-number lottery that includes 55 numbers is about one in 28,989,675. The fact that hundreds of people hit the jackpot in a single lottery draw in the Philippines with those elements is raising more than a few red flags.
This past weekend, the Philippines’ Grand Lotto draw had a top prize of about $4 million. However, when 433 people came forward and showed their winning tickets, questions of a possible scam began to emerge.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone has rigged the outcome of a lottery. Although an investigation is now underway, some mathematicians believe that it’s conceivable the results are legitimate.
The BBC reports that Koko Pimentel, the senate minority leader, wants an official inquiry into the lottery draw. The numbers that hit were all divisible by nine and, according to him, it’s highly unlikely that this was a coincidence. It’s also virtually impossible for hundreds of people to choose the same numbers on the same draw.
The media outlet cited Guido David, who pointed out that the odds of so many people selecting this particular set of numbers is “one followed by 1,224 zeros.” The University of the Philippines math professor added that he doesn’t believe the number has a name because it’s so big.
The Grand Lotto operates like many others. Players have to choose six numbers for the draw, with 1-55 being the choices. On October 1, the winning combination was 9-18-27-36-45-54.
Pimentel is getting support from Senator Risa Hontiveros. She issued a statement separately in which she acknowledged that an investigation can help clear the air over whether or not there was any manipulation.
Overseeing the lottery is the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). The agency’s GM, Melquiades Robles, denied any wrongdoing took place and said that it would be impossible to rig the outcome. She added that people regularly use sequences when choosing their lottery numbers.
Robles explained that draw machines automatically select the numbers, with no human intervention in the process. The only interaction a person has with the draw is when the machine is turned on.
Improbable, Not Impossible
As unlikely as it is that the number combination would appear and so many people would have played that sequence, it isn’t impossible. A University of California math professor, Terence Tao, told the BBC that it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Tao explained that, with the number of draws that occur around the world all the time, the statistics start to improve. At some point, the stars have to align to produce an unusual, almost impossible, outcome.
The professor compared it to poker. A game, or even a series like the WSOP, may not see a straight flush or four of a kind. However, across the millions of poker hands that occur at any given time, the odds of one of those hitting improve exponentially.
It wouldn’t do much good for hundreds of people to collaborate on the lottery draw. With the results of this draw, each winner will only take home around PHP545,245 (US$9,296) before taxes.
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