Lucky lotto numbers

Wednesday June 4, 2008

Everyone dreams of winning lotto but for most people that never happens. And yet whilst we all know it's a game of chance there are numbers that consistently come up.

Tomorrow night (Thursday, June 5) the Powerball jackpot will reach $50 million, making it the biggest prize ever offered in any Australian lottery game.

With that in mind, we asked scientist Tilly Boleyn to explain the scientific approach to picking the winning digits and got her to share tips for making sure you're the only person to win.

"A lot of people have 'lucky numbers' which they use for lotto draws," explains Ms Boleyn. "Often these are dates of anniversaries, birthdays or numbers that have personal significance."

Science says the best way to pick winning numbers is to forget 'lucky numbers' and pick your choices randomly. It's also not a good idea to pick numbers in a line, for example, 15,16,17,18 and 19.

"People assume that line selection is not a common thing, but it is. It means even if you do win lotto, you'll be sharing it with a lot of people," she says.

Another tip is to pick a couple of numbers above 31, these numbers aren't as popular because they're out of the date range.

The most-drawn Powerball numbers are 26, 22, 5, 39, 24 and 34. The least drawn numbers are 41, 32, 10, 43, 35 and 20.

But Ms Boleyn warns people to remember that the game is random. "Just because these numbers have come up more in the past it doesn't mean they'll be lucky in the future."

Lucky numbers

The most popular number selection appears to be lucky number eight. The number is particularly lucky in Chinese culture. "In China a regional airline reportedly paid about 2.4 million yuan, or $300,000, to have '88888888' for a telephone number," says Ms Boleyn.

The honour of most unpopular number goes to numbers four and 13. In Korea, China, and Japan, as well as in many East-Asian and some Southeast-Asian countries, there is a fear of the number four because phonetically it is similar to 'death'. It's not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels) to lack floors with the number four.

Usually considered to be a superstition, triskaidekaphobia is the name of given to a fear of the number 13. A specific fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Some Christian traditions also say that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse of sorts.

In Italy 17 is an unlucky number because when it is written into Roman digits (XVII) it can easily be rearranged to "VIXI", which in Latin means "I lived".

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