Have you bought your ticket?

Ross Greenwood speaks to Macquarie Graduate School of Management Professor John Croucher you exact chances of winning the $100 million Powerball

Introduction: Have you bought your ticket?

Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Money News, right around the country. Well, look, if you’ve missed out in the share market, you reckon the property market is going no good for you, listen up here on Money News, because tonight for the first time there is un-precedent, in Australia at least anyway, $100,000,000 on the line in Powerball.

Now, as you’d imagine I’m not one who would advocate you gambling, but then somebody technically has go to win this, don’t they? Or do they? I’ve often known, I thought that the old thing was that if Jesus ha put in his tickets every week, and he put them in every week for the past, well, 2018 years, he still wouldn’t have won. That’s the odds.

A man who knows much more about this than me is Professor John Croucher. He’s a professor at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. He’s a mathematics and, shall I say probability expert, that’s what I’m going to call him, at least anyway. He’s on line.

Goodday John.

Interview with: John Croucher, Professor, Macquarie Graduate School of Management

John Croucher: Good day, Ross, how are you doing?

Ross Greenwood: This is a top story, isn’t it?

John Croucher: Have you got your ticket?

Ross Greenwood: No.

No, I don’t. How about you?

John Croucher: I do actually [chuckles].

Ross Greenwood: You do have a ticket? [crosstalk] That’s interesting because, John, you know the maths of all of this, all right? Take me through it. What would be the chance of a person playing Powerball, putting in their ticket tonight, winning this $100,000,000?

John Croucher: What, apart from buckley’s, you mean?

Ross Greenwood: Buckley’s, that’s right. That’s the first chance.

John Croucher: Well, you probably know they changed Powerball back in April to make it a harder game. I don’t know whether you knew that or not?

Ross Greenwood: No.

John Croucher: The chance of winning was then about one in 76 million, and they’ve stiffened that up to one in 134 million [laughs], with a single entry and it’s more expensive, but they got bigger prizes. There has been a $100,000,000,000 prize before in Australia. Yes.

Ross Greenwood: There’s only been one in 2012 as I understand, is that right?

John Croucher: That was in Oz Lotto they had $100,000,000 prize. That was 2012. One in three Australian adults purchased a ticket in that.

Ross Greenwood: It’ll be interesting to see how they go tonight. Tell me, what are my odds?

John Croucher: One in 134,490,400, approximately.

Ross Greenwood: Wait on. Say it again, one in 134 million–

John Croucher: 490,400.

Ross Greenwood: Hang on, but there’s only 25 million of us in Australia, but there is only one in 134 million chance.

John Croucher: Yes, but you don’t buy one ticket.

Ross Greenwood: Oh, right. So, If I’ve got to buy six tickets even to get myself back to the one person in Australia, is that pretty much it?

John Croucher: Well, then you’re talking about adults in Australia- [crosstalk]

Ross Greenwood: Oh, that’s true.

John Croucher: -you have to be 18, so it’s only about 18 million adults. Yes, I think six tickets will cost you about $10.20. I think that’s the minimum you have to buy, but people will buy multiples in syndicats. They’re selling the dream, aren’t they? 100 million, what would you do with it?

Ross Greenwood: Hang on, wait on. Wait on. I’m just thinking about this, technically, could I try and cover every combination in Powerball?

John Croucher: Absolutely, yes. It would cost you more than 100 hundred million though.

Ross Greenwood: Oh, really?

John Croucher: Yes [laughs].

Ross Greenwood: But, look, hang on, Wait on, even if it cost me a 100 million and I got a 100 million back, no, it’s not going to work for me. I’m going to lose money. That’s not going to work, is it?

John Croucher: Well, even if it costs you 80 million, if you share it you’re gone.

Ross Greenwood: That’s true.

[laughter]

I’ve never thought about that, John. That’s funny.

John Croucher: I’m glad I told you then, yes.

Ross Greenwood: Oh, that’s so true. In other words, even if I shelled out the 80 million, but then I had to share the 100 million, I’d only get 50 million and as a result I’m out pocket 30 million. No, that’s not going to work, is it? The point is, they often say somebody’s going to win this.

John Croucher: No,, nobody won it last week and it was 80 million.

Ross Greenwood: That’s true.

John Croucher: Yes. You’ve got to have on average 135 million entries to get one winner. If they don’t get that many entries, well the expected number of winners it’s less than one. Probably because of the interest now the 100 million makes it sound pretty attractive. They’re going to get bucks of people.

Ross Greenwood: Is there anyway, John, that I can improve my chances, if I thought that I had a half a chance of winning this?

John Croucher: Yes, buy more tickets. The only way. I can give you some information though. They’ve only had 17 draws in this new lotto and the number that’s come up the most often is number 32. It’s been drawn eight times out of 17 draws, in the main numbers. That compares to 10 and 27 that have only been drawn once. So eight times more than those two numbers.

Now, some people who are not statistical would say those numbers, 10 and 27, are overdue, but I wouldn’t say that [chuckles].

Ross Greenwood: Either that or this little bit sticky type of number 32 that keeps on making it come down, John.

John Croucher: Or the ball rolled on the floor and it’s not even there [laughs].

Ross Greenwood: That’s precisely it. Who knows? I’ll tell you what, they’re great stats. I love that, one in 134,490,400 chances that you’ll win with one ticket. As John Croucher says, get out there do it. I love the maths. It is fantastic. Professor, Macquarie Graduate School of Management and a man who is an expert on probability.

He’s worked all those numbers. John, I appreciate your time. Good luck for tonight.

John Croucher: My pleasure, Ross. I’ll let you know. Thank you.

Ross Greenwood: He’ll be first on the phone if he wins, won’t he? I wouldn’t blame him.

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