One of the most bizarre South African lottery results was recorded on December 1st, resulting in cries of ‘scam’ over the practically unbelievable set of consecutive numbers drawn.
Tuesday’s Powerball draw numbers were: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and the bonus number was 10. Twenty lucky players chose these numbers to win the R114 million jackpot, with each taking home R5,688,468,21 in prize money.
Ithuba National Lottery said that there was nothing sinister about the result and reassured the public that everything was done above board. Ithuba’s head of corporate relations, Busisiwe Msizi said that the computer system which picked the numbers was fully audited and verified.
The lottery uses a random number generator (also used by online casinos to determine the outcome of online slot games and other casino games), where all numbers are generated randomly.
Msizi said that was “no way” that Tuesday’s jackpot numbers could have been rigged as there was “no human intervention at all when it comes to the draw procedure.”
“The numbers came out as 8, 5, 9, 7, 6 and bonus ball was 10,” said Msizi. “But remember when we televise the draw show, we do put them in numerical order and there’s a one in 42 million chance in terms of these numbers coming out.”
Despite Ithuba’s statement, social media was abuzz with theories that the draw was a scam.
One user, ‘Well Fed Slave’ tweeted: “Can’t believe what I’m seeing. How on earth would 20 people possibly get this right? #Lotto”
The truth of the matter is, however, that it’s not unusual for players to choose consecutive numbers. According to iol, in the UK, about 10,000 people play the lottery numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in every draw. As such, one reason NOT to play consecutive numbers is that if the numbers do come up, you would be sharing the prize money with a significant number of people who chose just like you.
Moreover, mathematical experts explain that the odds of drawing a combination of consecutive numbers are similar to the other millions of possible combinations. The odds of winning the SA Powerball Lottery are 1 in 42 million.
Msizi said that people tend to play consecutive sequences all the time. “It just happened that this time around 20 different people across the country manually selected these numbers via different play channels,” she said. “Some at retail outlets and we have two who selected via their banking apps.” Having said that, the majority of lottery players like to play calendar numbers (eg. birth dates, anniversaries and other important dates) to make it easier for them to remember what to enter on their lottery slips. Some experts advise players that because the most heavily played numbers are calendar numbers (1 through to 31), they should actually be avoided. But then again, tell that to the 20 lucky players who not only went against the general advice not to play consecutive numbers, but also played purely calendar numbers.
The bottom line? Choose the numbers that sit right with your gut, and don’t believe those scam theories!