22 August 2008

The One With The Most Money Wins

From Wisconsin, a story about a couple with a "secret formula" for winning the lottery:

Has Couple Found Formula To Win Lottery? Husband, Wife Have Each Claimed $350,000 Check This Week (WNBC, 8/22/08)
A double-lottery-winning couple in Dane County doubled their winnings again.

Verlyn and Judith Adamson of Mount Horeb each claimed a $350,000 jackpot this week for having the winning numbers in the state SuperCash drawing last Saturday.

But they didn't mention at the time that they also held two more of the winning tickets....

Verlyn Adamson, an accountant, said earlier in the week that he's a big fan of math puzzles. He claims he developed a formula for lottery picks, but his winnings have been small until now....

But Steven Post, a mathematics professor at Edgewood College in Madison, said there is no way to devise a strategy for finding the winning numbers...
There may be no way to predict the winning numbers, assuming that the numbers are chosen randomly. There are, however, ways to increase your winnings. The Adamsons illustrate one way: buy several tickets with the same number. If the Adamsons had bought one ticket and one other person also bought a winning ticket, they'd get half the pot. If they buy four winning tickets and one other person also bought a winning ticket, they'd get 80% of the pot.

Another return maximizing strategy is to only pick numbers greater than 31. Those numbers are equally (un)likely to win, but since so many people play birthdays, the chance of multiple winners is lower.

Of course, the best way to make money from the lottery is not to play at all.

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