What are the odds: South African lottery draw of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 raises eyebrows | News | DW | 02.12.2020
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What are the odds: South African lottery draw of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 raises eyebrows

Despite the odds of a consecutive sequence winning South Africa’s national lottery, regulators have defended the selection as unusual, but not indicative of foul play.

South Africa's Tuesday night national lottery drew the consecutive numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and a "PowerBall" number of 10, drawing immediate accusations of fraud. 

The lucky 20 luckers who came forward each won 5.7 million rand ($369,000) with another 79 receiving around 6,283 rand ($407) each for guessing the right sequence but missing the critical PowerBall.

"Congratulations to tonight's 20 winners of PowerBall draw," the lottery Tweeted out on Tuesday.

Skepticism abounds 

As social media commentators pounced, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Lotteries Commission (NLC) defended the randomness of the winning combination.  

“These numbers may be unexpected, but we see many players opt to play these sequences."

Unswayed skeptical Twitter users in South Africa and accused the lottery of foul play, without citing further evidence.

"Lotto exposing themselves that they are a scam," posted one Twitter user.

"20 people discussed this and shared that jackpot equally," ventured another.

"Absolutely no way in hell that's a coincidence," another said.

Inquiry to follow 

After the numbers were drawn live on TV, the NLC, which regulates the game, admitted that the six consecutive number combination was unprecedented.

In a nod to the naysayers, spokesman Ndivhuho Mafela assured the AFP news agency that the commission will conduct a review "and if there is anything that went wrong we will declare that."

Nevertheless, they reminded lottery players that it is not impossible given that the odds of any one set of numbers being selected for the PowerBall are approximately 1 in 42 million.

Though not uncommon for two players to share the same jackpot, multiple winners are indeed extremely rare. Just the same, in March 2003, 33 players won a share of the jackpot, according to a South African website that tallies results.