Lotto 6/49 LogoYou can’t win if you don’t play. That’s my problem. I don’t play.

But for those out there who do play and are hoping to get rich via the lottery, here’s a story from Canada that may make you re-think the “lucky” numbers you select…

239 2nd-prize tickets cut payout

Second-prize winners of Wednesday night’s Lotto 6-49 draw probably thought Lady Luck had favoured them in a big way, but she actually smirked instead of smiled.

The draw for a $3.99 million jackpot saw 239 tickets with five of the six winning numbers plus the bonus number, making for a smaller second-prize payday than some ticket holders might expect.

Total second prize money was valued at $285,294.30, but holders will only receive $1,193.70 each after the loot has been divided.

The number of second-prize winners is striking when compared to recent draws for similar jackpots

Don Pister, a spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, said a draw on March 15 yielded only three second-prize winners, while no one picked five numbers and the bonus on March 5.

Pister conceded Wednesday’s result was unusual, but said only one factor is to blame.

“6-49 draw results are determined solely by random chance, so every set of possible six numbers coming has exactly the same chance as any other set,” he said in an interview.

Pister said the nature of the winning sequence also played a role in skewing the number of second-place finishers.

The numbers 40, 41, 42, 44 and 45 were all winners while 43 rounded out the consecutive string as Wednesday’s bonus number. The opening number was 23.

In addition to the 239 second-prize winning tickets, a further 106 winners picked five correct numbers without the bonus. The top prize went unclaimed.

Pister said many winners play consecutive numbers as a matter of course, but cited the popularity of that particular string for the high number of winners.

He said that particular set often corresponds to people’s ages or the years in which they were born, making them common choices for habitual lottery players.

Tom Salisbury, a professor of mathematics and statistics at York University, was less surprised by the sequence of Wednesday’s winning numbers as by the number of people who appear to adopt a losing strategy.

He said lottery fortune-hunters who consistently choose numbers in a pattern run a much higher risk of having to share the wealth than those who play random numbers.

He said Wednesday’s results only prove that playing consecutive numbers in a popular group like the 40s is not a surefire route to easy street.

“The moral of the story is that if you’re one of the people who chooses six numbers in a row, it’s certainly not going to help you win. And if you win, it’s going to guarantee that you don’t take much money home,” Salisbury said.

One thing that did appear to be well dispersed was the location of Wednesday’s numerous second-place winners.

Although 120 of them hail from Ontario, 16 prize cheques will be bound for Atlantic Canada, 63 for Quebec, and 40 for the western provinces.

Can you imagine going to collect your winnings, expecting $285k and walking out with under $1200?

I wonder if they’ll even bother with the giant oversized novelty checks (or in this case, cheques) with this many winners?

The quoted article above was by Michelle McQuigge.

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