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UK Mathematicians Claim They Can Guarantee a Lottery Win

Plastic sign of the United Kingdom national lottery sits outside of a small shop
Source: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Two mathematicians from the United Kingdom, David Cushing and David Stewart, have been making headlines across the nation after claiming to have discovered a way to win the lottery.

The Mathematicians, hailing from the University of Manchester, released an academic paper this past July centered on how many tickets a player would have to purchase to guarantee a win. They claim the magic number to ensure a prize in the UK’s National Lottery is 27.

However, they did add a disclaimer to the paper, mentioning this number doesn’t guarantee the jackpot. It may not even amount to what a customer paid for the tickets. The UK’s Lottery, known as the Lotto, is held twice each week, typically offering a jackpot of at least a few million dollars. Yet, the most recent was close to $30 million.

Bookmakers claim that one ticket gives a player around a 1 in 45 million chance. Yet, the mathematicians believe they have figured out a way to change the odds in their favor. While the men don’t promise the jackpot, they are reasonably confident they know how many tickets a player needs to buy to ensure some small win.

According to the pair’s published paper, the 27 specific tickets they devised are enough to ensure you will win something. During the Lotto, six balls will eventually appear on the screen. Get two of those, and you win a free ticket; three, and you could win around $40. But match all six, and you’ve won the jackpot.

In the paper, the mathematicians explain the process, which begins by using a unique system of counting called finite geometry. This involves placing the numbers used in the Lotto, one 1 to 59, in pairs and triples connected to specific geometric shapes. Then, they connect each set with a line, which brings together a group of six numbers, which makes one ticket.

Stewart and Cushing explain it takes 27 tickets to cover every single number in the Lotto, which they claim guarantees a win, however small. So, considering the UK’s Lotto costs around $2.50 per ticket, that means, in total, a player would have to spend around $54 to win. Yet, it may only be a free ticket.

Not everyone agrees with the system devised by the mathematicians of the University of Manchester. Peter Rowlett, who works at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, said in 99% of cases, people won’t get their initial investment back.

However, in one experiment, a member of the Cushing and Stewarts team did manage to win over $2,000 using the system. “He’s incredibly lucky with it,” Cushing said — though the colleague still hasn’t bought them lunch to say thanks, he joked.

Even after one of their colleagues wins a decent cash prize using the formula they devised, Cushing claims he’s no longer interested in playing. “I came to the conclusion that whenever we were involved, they didn’t make any money, and then they made money when we decided not to put them on,” said Cushing.


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