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Defying the odds

Pat Diaz .

GENERAL Santos City — You are on your last 50 pesos. What will you do with it? Buy bananas or bet on lotto? Hitting the jackpot may be worth missing your favorite lacatan or tundal. Prospecting is fun.

I got curious when I stumbled upon the Sept. 14, 2018 draw of lotto 6/58. The jackpot prize – P602,502, 930! No winner. I followed the draws. The Oct. 5, 2018 jackpot or eight draws after – P903,290,152, still no winner.  The jackpot had increased by P301,787.216  — on the average, P37.723,402 between draws. Between Oct. 2 alone (7th draw from Sept. 14) and Oct. 5, the increase was P53,711,832.

It can only be asked: How many million Filipinos, many if not most must be poor have placed a bet on the Lotto 6/58 with the avid hope of winning P900 million? The jackpot soared past one billion. Wow!

Millions avidly hoped to be instant near-billionaire or billionaire. But what are the odds against their winning?

We asked Google: How many combinations of six numbers can one to 58 make using each number 58 times?

The odds:  48.92 billionth, if the winning is determined strictly by the sequence the six numbers are written by the bettor; but since the winning six numbers may come in any order, the chances are better: 67.945 millionth.

To figure out your odds of winning, multiply together all of the fractional odds of picking a given number correctly, as stated by the red fractions above.

1/63 × 1/62 × 1/61 × 1/60 × 1/59 × 1/58 = 1/48920775120

So, at this point, your odds of winning are 1 in 48920775120. But, since you can choose your winning numbers in any order, your chances of winning are somewhat better than this. Your chance betters by the number of different ways that a sequence of 6 numbers can be written down, which for 6 numbers is 6! (6 factorial) or 720. Divide 48920775120 by 720 to account for this, to get 67945521.

In other words, there are 720 different ways that the 6 numbers you choose can be filled out on your lottery ticket–if you choose your 6 numbers correctly, any of these ways will make a winning ticket.

Here are some other odds for the sake of comparison:

  • You have about a 1 in 2,000,000 chance of being struck by lightning.
  • A pregnant woman has a 1 in 705,000 chance of giving birth to quadruplets.
  • Someone eating an oyster has a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl inside of it.

Now, lottery odds can be pretty incomprehensible. How can we possibly have any “feeling” for the number 67,945,521? To help you with this, here’s a little experiment you can try to “get a handle on” what a 1 in 67,945,521 chance really means.

  1. Get a piece of rope or string, that’s 85 feet long.
  2. In a wide open area, arrange the rope or string in a circle, end to end, the best you can.
  3. Get a single grain of sand or dirt (use tweezers!) and place it anywhere you wish inside the circle.
  4. Get a second grain of sand. Close your eyes, and “disorient” yourself as to where the grain of sand is that you placed inside of the circle (have someone spin you around or something!).
  5. While you’re inside the circle, drop the second grain of sand from 1 foot up.
  6. Your chances of hitting the first grain of sand with the second is roughly equal to the odds of “1 in 67,945,521.”
  7. If the rope’s length mentioned in #1 is a little unreasonable, for every foot above the circle that you drop the second grain of sand, you can reduce the length of the string by the same amount. For example, if you dropped the second grain of sand from a ladder 10 feet up, you’d need a length of string that is 10 times shorter than the one in #1, or a 85/10 = 8.49169 foot long piece of string.

Good luck! And sorry to say that the only way to increase your chances of winning is to buy more tickets! Choosing birthdays, your age, addresses, years, phone numbers, etc. does not help at all!

To Google’s parting words, we add:  To be 100 percent sure of winning, buy all the 67,945,521 combinations, which means investing P1,359,474,284.17 –  that is, P20 per combination plus 20 percent tax on bet.


(Patricio P. Diaz was editor in chief of the Cotabato City-based Mindanao Cross and later the Mindanao Kris before returning to General Santos City. E-mail: -Mindanews)


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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