Follow this topicFollow this topic Knowledge » Money saving tips

How to win the lottery...twice!

Cliff D'Arcy
by Lovemoney Staff Cliff D'Arcy on 21 February 2011  |  Comments 28 comments

Hitting the jackpot more than once is more common than you'd think...

How to win the lottery...twice!

Lee and Susan Mullen must be among the luckiest (and unluckiest) people in Britain.

First time unlucky

Six years ago, Lee and Sarah missed out on an £8.5 million win on the National Lottery. For years, they had entered the same numbers into the Lotto draw each week. However, following the birth of their daughter, they couldn’t afford both nappies and lottery tickets.

Putting their baby first, the Mullens spent their last pound on nappies. In a cruel twist of fate, all six of their numbers came up the following weekend. Haunted by this missed fortune, the couple vowed never to play the Lotto again.

Second time lucky

However, Lady Luck eventually came good for Lee and Susan, as one of Susan’s dreams literally came true. After apparently dreaming around Christmas time of a £4.6 million Lotto win, Susan began buying Lucky Dips for the EuroMillions draws.

Within six weeks, her premonition came true as the couple scooped £4,873,640, sharing the EuroMillions jackpot of £24.4 million on Friday, 4 February with four other winners. Weirdly, this prize was just £273,640 more than Susan dreamt she would win.

A mathematician’s apology

As a former mathematician, I grinned from ear to ear at this story.

My first grin was one of delight on learning that the Mullens will go from getting by on weekly benefits of £300 to having nearly £5 million to invest and spend. If Lee and Susan can earn 5% a year on their win, then they will have over £20,300 a month to live life to the full.

My second grin was one of amusement, because I know that weird and wonderful results like this can and do happen in random systems. As creatures of habit used to looking for patterns in nature and mental short-cuts in our lives, we humans find it terribly difficult to appreciate true random chance. That’s why we often struggle to put probability in its proper place.

Beating big odds

For example, to win the EuroMillions jackpot, you need to pick five correct numbers from one to 50, plus two more numbers from one to nine. Your chance of doing this is (50 x 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 9 x 8) / (5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 2) = 76,275,360 to one.

In other words, you have a one-in-76-million chance of getting all seven numbers right and scooping the Big One. These astronomical odds are worth putting into context: if you buy a EuroMillions ticket before noon, then you are more likely to die before the day is out than to win the jackpot.

As for the UK Lotto, to win the jackpot, you need to pick all six balls draw from numbers one to 49. The odds of doing this are (49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44) / (6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2) = 13,983,816 to one.

Lucky, lucky, lucky

Now let’s say that you bought one UK Lotto ticket this week and one next week, scooping both jackpots. The change of this happening in one in 13,983,816 x 13,983,816 = one in 195,547,109,921,856 (or roughly 195.6 trillion to one). Frankly, that is so unbelievably unlikely that it is almost unimaginable, but probability proves that it could happen.

Indeed, despite the astronomic odds of winning more than one jackpot, multiple-jackpot winners happen more often than you’d expect.

Last July, in Lessons from the world's luckiest woman, I told the tale of Joan Ginther, a Texan living in Las Vegas who has won not one but four lottery jackpots. In total, jammy Joan has won roughly £12.6 million in 17 years of playing US lotteries and scratchcards.

What’s more, Joan isn’t alone, as I’ve found numerous tales of multiple winners. Steve Vachon of Maine, USA won two jackpots just 18 months apart. Perhaps the luckiest winner is the unnamed US punter who won twice in the same month!

How to win twice

To properly understand lotteries, you need know only two things:

  1. You must be in it to win it. In other words, you must buy a ticket in order to win. Then again, your chance of winning without a ticket (zero) isn’t much less than the 14-million-to-one chance you have after buying a single ticket.
  2. Nothing changes the odds. No matter what you do or whatever system you use, nothing can increase your chances of winning -- other than buying more tickets, of course. In random systems, only dumb luck separates the winners from the losers.

Therefore, if you want to win the lottery twice, then you could try two things:

  • First, enter more often by buying more tickets. Alas, this will most likely lose you more, not win you more.
  • Second, when you win your first jackpot, don’t stop buying tickets. Instead, cross your fingers and hope for lightning to strike twice.

Of course, now that you know the odds of actually winning the lottery, you may prefer to do something sensible with your money instead, such as depositing it in a savings account or paying off your credit card bill. That is certainly the approach we would recommend here at lovemoney.com!

But if you’re reading this article, odds are you want to fantasise about a lottery win. So here are five tips on dealing with a big win, and three genuine, mathematically sound techniques to boost the size of your jackpot. Just don’t rely on them to pay the bills – and don’t gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.

Here’s wishing you the best of British luck. With less than 50% of Lotto receipts being returned in prizes (costing us £2.5 billion a year), you’re going to need it!

Get help from lovemoney

For great how-to guides, explaining everything from how to cut your mortgage costs to how to make money in every room of your house, head over to our Guides section.

If you need help with a specific issue, why not see if your fellow lovemoney.com users can help by asking a question in our Q&A section?

More: Find your perfect savings account | Ten ways to save without realising | Base rate set to rise by May

Enjoyed this? Show it some love

Twitter
General

Comments (28)

  • gr123
    Love rating 0
    gr123 said

    Make your mind up Susan or Sarah! lol! I love using the lucky dips when I play the Lottery. It just makes it so much easier then picking birthdays etc, also birthdays can only go up to 31 (if using days) so it leaves out the rest of the numbers! If this theory does work then don't forget to check your second round of winning numbers straight after the draw at http://www.lottery.co.uk/results/ they also have a great iPhone app which makes it easier to check results if you have one.

    Report on 02 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • dugthebug
    Love rating 1
    dugthebug said

    @rpb: just for completion.....

    “An EVENT is something that happens at a particular point in space and at a particular time”. (A Brief History of Time, Stephen J. Hawkins, Page 23). Your “simple example” breaks down because it doesn’t take account of that important component, critical to my argument, TIME. The event in question is the National Lottery Draw. At a rate of one draw a week it would take, in theory, 270,000 years (14,000,000 lotto draws) for all lottery totals to appear. I am mainly concerned with identifying only those lottery totals which are likely to appear in our lifetime and how often, on average, they are expected to occur. For example, in 270,000 years, lottery total 150 is expected to appear about 165,000 times. In 65 years it is expected to appear just 30 times. There would be no (or very few) lottery totals less than 50 or greater than 250 because these lottery totals are expected to appear once every 125+ years.

    Report on 26 March 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

Post a comment

Sign in or register to post a reply.

Our top deals

Credit card
company
Balance transfers rate and period Representative
APR
Apply
now

Barclaycard 31Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 31 months (2.99% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.99% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

Barclaycard 30Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.89% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

MBNA 30Mth Platinum Credit Card Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status.
W3C  Thank you for using One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest