This one was sent in by Mike, a faithful reader. Yes, I have at least one faithful reader!
MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (AP) – An airline pilot from Maplewood won a $25,000 lottery jackpot – two days in a row.
Raymond Snouffer Jr. matched the winning numbers 11-14-23-26-31 to win Saturday’s Northstar Cash drawing with odds of about 170,000 to 1, Minnesota Lottery officials said.
On Sunday, Snouffer stuck with 11 and switched to 3-7-19-28 – and won again.
Lottery officials said such a sequence was so farfetched that the odds against it were “virtually incalculable.”
Virtually incalculable? “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Just square the probabilities!!! The “virtually incalculable” odds are about 1 in 28.9 billion.
(Working backwards, it appears that the structure is 31 numbers, of which you choose 5, which gives odds of 169,911 to 1. Assuming that’s true, the precise odds of winning twice in a row are 28,869,747,921 to 1.
Those are the odds of a particular person winning any two particular drawings in a row. Their odds of ever winning twice in a row ever are greater, since you has many chances to win twice in a row. Another way to look at it is that there is always a winner from last drawing. Assuming they play again, their odds are 170,000 to 1. That is the odds that there will be a repeat winner for a particular drawing.)
Welcome any Wikipedia readers. Note the parenthetical above, the probability of “this” happening depends on what you think “this” is.