17 Oct 2019

Lotto: $38m on offer, but the odds are just as high

2:36 pm on 17 October 2019

The Lotto Powerball jackpot has climbed to $38 million this week, making it New Zealand's second highest lottery prize, but with a one in 38 million chance of winning it all, the odds are slim.

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Photo: Lotto

Most statisticians will tell you that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than scooping the top prize. They may be right - but is there anything you can do to increase your chances of winning?

Otago University statistics professor Martin Hazleton had two pieces of advice.

"First, there's no such thing as lucky numbers. And certainly the fact that a particular set of numbers has never come up or something doesn't increase the chances that they suddenly will. There's no sense in which you know, there's a bunch of numbers just waiting to happen."

Prof Hazleton said there was one way you might be able to slightly maximise your payback.

"If you pick a set of numbers, which is in some sense is unusual, then if you were lucky enough to win, you probably win more because of there will be less people who actually select those numbers."

He said people should stay away from date of births.

On the streets of Christchurch today, there were plenty of people who were confident they had the winning numbers.

Purchasing a ticket for this week's Powerball was a no-brainer for former Australian resident Jennifer Brown.

"I'm from Australia where the odds are a lot, lot, lot, lot worse. So I feel like I have a better chance here than at home. So why not?"

She admits that her one in 38 million chance of winning was difficult to comprehend.

"When you say it, it doesn't really sound like a lot, but I'm sure if you got 38 million people and put them all in the same place, it would be a lot of people, [but] you've got to be in it to win it."

Laura Williams purchased her first ticket in two years as a pick-me-up after a particularly tough week.

She knew the odds were high, but didn't care as she was more interested in thinking about what she would do if she won big.

"Holiday, wedding, house, probably in that order."

It is truly difficult to imagine what an injection of millions dollars would have on someone's life. However, one woman says winning her share of a $30 million jackpot has transformed many more lives than her's - for the better.

She said her win had allowed to her share the love with her friends and family to make their lives easier.

Having worked all her life, winning Lotto meant she no longer had to. The daily grind was replaced by an appreciation for life's more simple pleasures.

"If there's a unique experience going and it costs $200, before it wouldn't haven't entertained the idea but now I try not to think twice about it and just do it.

"It can be as extravagant as buying a beautiful bar of soap instead of Palmolive at the supermarket. It makes you appreciate the simple things as well."

Professor Martin Hazleton had a piece of parting wisdom for anyone considering spending hundreds on tickets.

"If you are playing Lotto because you know it's essentially a form of entertainment, you get this pleasurable feeling of anticipation, and if you're happy that it's a way of donating to charity, then good on you. But in terms of scheme for money making, that is not what Lotto is."

The Lotto Powerball Jackpot will be drawn at 8pm this evening.