Lucky Lottery Birthdays

Lottery birthday Fun Fact

Photo credit: Jeremy Brooks via / CC BY-NC

Many of us view our birthday as a lucky day. Some take it even farther and play birthdays to win big in the lottery!

  • A North Carolina man played his family’s birthdays to pick all five numbers and win $246,279 from a $1 ticket. “I’d used those numbers for a while and was about to pick some new ones,” Svedek said in the news coverage. “I’m so glad I didn’t. This feels really good.”
  • A Virginia woman won $100,000 when playing family birthdays on Powerball. She thought she’d only won $50K, but since she spent the extra dollar for Power Play her prize doubled and, according to her daughter, “she just about had a hard attack.”

Turns out, though, this isn’t actually the best way to pick lottery numbers. Sure, the numbers are easy to remember, but — yes, there is such a site — suggests playing “birth dates starts you out on a disadvantaged path.”

You are, after all, limited to the numbers 1 to 31. Plus, if you do win, there’s a “higher probability of a diminished return by sharing that prize pool…because so many other lotto players also use their birthday numbers.”

Of course another way to incorporate a birthday with the lottery is to buy the tickets as a gift. A 19-year-old received two Illinois scratch off tickets from her Dad on her birthday and won $4 million! (Guess her Dad’s feeling pretty set on birthday presents for his daughter for years to come).

Nevertheless, as I wrap up this blog, I can imagine my logic professor brother rolling his eyes at me for even remotely endorsing the lottery. So, I’ll remind you that your odds for winning the lottery are slim — whether you play birthdays or not.

A Birthday Problem? Who knew.

The Birthday Problem is not about who to invite to your birthday party. Nor is about whether to serve cake or ice cream (answer: both). Rather, it’s something to do with numbers.

Me, I am all about number of presents. Number of parties. Number of people attending said parties. Those numbers I understand. I am not a math person.  I teach writing. I had to get my brother’s help to offer even a semblance of math literacy on the GRE’s.

Yet, apparently math folks have this probabilities question exploring how many people in the room will share the same birthday. (Of course, if you’ve the chart showing birthday frequencies, you might be ahead of the game). Dr. Math even has several archived probability problems with birthdays involved.

Also for you quantitatively minded, or “birthamathophiles,” here’s Jon Plotkin’s post about roots, squares and other words that make me glaze over. Those who are more patient than me will enjoy (yes, the number of people who qualify as more patient is very, very big). He discusses “The Perfect Birthday” and points to 6 and 28. I was born on the 6th. One more reason my birthday’s perfect? I’ll take it!