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239 people share second prize in Canada's Lotto 6/49 draw

Mar 26, 2008, 9:54 am

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Canada 6/49

What some are calling a mathematical fluke led to smaller-than-expected payouts for 239 second-prize winners of last Wednesday's Lotto 6/49.

The jackpot for the draw was $3.99 million, but no one got all six numbers and the bonus to claim the biggest prize for the night.

But 239 tickets got five of the six winning numbers, along with the bonus. Those tickets were good enough for second prize. Had there only been one second prize ticket, however, the ticket-holder would have won more than $285,000. Instead, 239 people will split the cash and claim just under $1,100 a piece.

The winning numbers were 23, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, and the bonus number was 43.

The set of numbers is interesting because other than the first number, it rises sequentially from 40 to 45.

"People tend to disbelieve that six numbers in a row would ever come up," says Carl Schwarz, a statistician at Simon Fraser University.

"(But) every set of six numbers has exactly the same chance of coming up.  So, there's nothing statistically odd about picking six numbers. It's the psychology."

Don Pister, a spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, says Wednesday's results are unusual for the number of winners. But he said a player's odds don't improve or decline based on the numbers he or she chooses.

"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.

Tom Salisbury, a professor of mathematics and statistics at York University, says future players should heed Wednesday's results. He said many of the players adopted a losing strategy.

"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.

On top of the 239 second-prize winning tickets, 106 winners picked five correct numbers without the bonus.

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