I Just Can't Win!

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I’m not being overly self-critical, I’m examining the California Lottery.

The lottery, voted into existence though the initiative process in 1996(ish), was going to provide a huge chunk of $$$$$$$$ for California schools. Instead of using the extra money generated by the lottery to supplement and increase the education budget, the state government soon pulled a bait and switch; as the lottery generated more school funds, the ass-embly subtracted general funds money slated for education and squandered it elsewhere. But that is not the point f this post.

In 2000, the California lottery commission, in their infinite wisdom, changed the lotto format from a six number format, with the highest number of 52, to a five number series reduced to a high 47, and added a separate set of numbers, the Mega Millions Numbers, 1 to 27, to choose. This was done to increase the size of the jackpots… by making it harder to win (as if it wasn’t hard enough). The government makes more money if there is a larger amount in the jackpot, through interest on the accumulated booty of cash, paid out over time. The public though soon realized the lottery was even more impossible to win, so people, myself included, started playing less, which means the state started getting less $$$$$$ for education that the government had already budgeted. Woops. This is the part of the education budgetary woes they don’t like to talk about. Oooops, I’m off track again.

Anyway, since its inception, up until the last couple of years, I was a regular player. Sometime during the first year the state lottery first came on line, I had this wonderful dream, or vision, or something, that showed me what my winning lottery numbers would be – 6, 8, 17, 22, 23, 49. I had to change the 49 to 25 when they changed to the Mega Millions system, eliminating the number 49 from the numbers choices altogether, and I started using 22 as the Mega number, since I now was required to have a Mega number even though I didn’t want one. OK. Tonight I decided to check if my numbers.

This is what I found.

Two things stood out. First, in seven years, the maximum amount of numbers from my dream list that have appeared on any drawing the painted ping-pong balls is, drum roll please , three. Yes, that’s right, three. And it’s only happened six times in seven years. Lets see, we have drawings twice a week for seven years… that’s 52 x 2 x 7 = ….. uhm math is not my strong suit…. uhm…  728. So in 728 drawings, three of my numbers have been chosen six times. Never five or four of them, just three. The other thing that stood out is the amount of times the number 23 has been chosen as the Mega number. Too many times to count. It’s pretty strange, but in statistics it’s called a random cluster or something, where you get, by chance, random groupings that defy normal scattered patterns. I understand this is also why there are certain areas where a specific cancer is seen at much higher levels than normal (here in the San Joaquin Valley, McFarland is an example of one), where, though the large number of cases would seem to indicate an underlying cause, there may be no environmental trigger found for the abnormal amount of the disease found in the community. But were talking numbers here – my numbers – and the apparent futility of playing the lotto. Based on the horrible performance if my numbers, chosen by vision quest, it would appear that I don’t stand a chance of winning the lotto… EVER!

So much for dreams coming true.

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