Lotto Jackpot Over $200 Million - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Lotto Jackpot Over $200 Million

With the Mega Millions lottery at an estimated $230 million for tonight's drawing, lotto hopefuls are out trying to pick the winning numbers. "I just use my kids' age and sometimes I get a quick pick," said player George Winston of Savannah. Fellow player Calvin Days said he uses "age and all that, your brother's age, birthdays, whatever you can get in there, you know."

Many players have a system. But there's a new kind of system. We looked online and found dozens of programs that promise to help you pick the winning numbers. One, called Lotto Pro, features all the Georgia and South Carolina games. It analyzes the winning numbers from past drawings, then recommends winning picks. Sound too good to be true?

Mathematician Jim Brawner from Armstrong Atlantic State says it it. "The lottery, the lotteries I should say, all the major ones, do a very careful job of ensuring that every number is equally likely to be chosen," he said.

Being random, a lottery is like flipping a coin. So if the last nine tosses came up heads, should you guess heads for the next flip since it's hot, or tails since it's due? "What's the probability that the next toss is going to come up heads? Well, guess what, it's one half," said Brawner. "It doesn't matter what's happened on those previous nine tosses."

If that's the case, then the numbers the program picked are as good as any. Or are they? According to statistics, any numbers you play have an equal chance of winning. But if the Lotto Pro program did happen to pick the winning numbers, you'd have to share the jackpot with anyone else who used it.

As Brawner put it, "If they want to maximize their winnings that they get from the lottery, then that's not the best play. You want to avoid lucky numbers, birth date numbers, numbers that are more likely to be chosen by lots of other people."

In any case, your chances at the jackpot remain the same: 1 in 135 million.

If you'd like to try out those lotto-picking programs, be advised most of them are not free. Many do come with a free trial, however.

Reported by: Charles Gray,

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