16 March 2008

Powerball "curse"? Come on...

From the Powerball FAQ:

HOW COME THE ONLY JACKPOT WINNERS ARE FROM THE [EAST - WEST - NORTH - SOUTH - CITIES - RURAL AREAS]?
HOW COME ONLY [WHITE, BLACK, TALL, SKINNY, YOUNG, OLD] PEOPLE WIN?

Powerball is a random game that knows nothing about who buys a ticket or where the ticket was purchased. [...]


They then go on to explain that there's such a thing as the Law of Large Numbers, and that the machine doesn't know anything about who bought the tickets. But this is buried pretty deep in the FAQ, so I wonder if people see it.

I can understand how someone might be suspicious that certain numbers come up more often than others -- maybe for whatever reason some balls come out of the machine more often than others. But how could the machine know what sort of people bought the tickets? (And even if it could, it would be incredibly difficult to load the balls appropriately, given the constraint that you can't get an arbitrary distribution on the many millions of combinations by just weighting down some of the 49 balls. There are nowhere near enough degrees of freedom -- if I want to weight the balls in such a way as to make 1-2-3-4-5 more/less likely, then other combinations involving some of those numbers will be made more/less likely as well.)

But people do ask this question, and some of them seem to believe that Philadelphia is cursed with regard to Powerball winnings.

2 comments:

Mark said...

They should link to your site with the "they do really exists" text in the FAQ above the one you point out:

OUR ODDS / PROBABILITIES ARE WRONG.
...
Some persons who enjoy statistics (they do really exist) will come up with odds of 1 in 17 billion.
...

Anonymous said...

see the hottest/coldest lotto numbers for the

Powerball lottery
Popularity Report
Hot numbers ???
Note: Powerballs not included here
================================
times Last
Ranking Number occurred hit on
1 B30 33 03/12/08
2 B19 32 03/12/08
3 B43 32 03/15/08
4 B54 32 01/30/08
5 B02 31 03/01/08
6 B08 31 03/19/08
7 B35 31 01/26/08
8 B42 31 03/15/08
9 B13 30 02/23/08
10 B16 30 03/05/08
11 B23 29 03/05/08
12 B38 29 02/13/08
13 B40 29 01/05/08
14 B48 29 03/22/08
15 B12 28 03/12/08
16 B24 28 02/27/08
17 B26 28 02/02/08
18 B55 28 03/01/08
19 B47 27 03/15/08
20 B15 26 03/05/08
21 B22 26 03/15/08
22 B50 26 12/15/07
23 B10 25 03/05/08
24 B14 25 02/02/08
25 B49 25 03/19/08
26 B27 24 01/19/08
27 B34 24 03/12/08
28 B37 24 02/27/08
29 B53 24 02/27/08
30 B03 23 02/16/08
31 B28 23 03/22/08
32 B36 23 03/12/08
33 B41 23 03/19/08
34 B45 23 09/19/07
35 B07 22 03/22/08
36 B20 22 02/27/08
37 B01 21 12/05/07
38 B04 21 02/16/08
39 B21 21 03/01/08
40 B31 21 03/08/08
41 B32 21 02/13/08
42 B39 21 01/26/08
43 B09 20 02/20/08
44 B11 20 01/26/08
45 B18 20 01/16/08
46 B05 19 02/06/08
47 B46 19 03/22/08
48 B51 19 02/13/08
49 B52 19 11/17/07
50 B06 18 03/19/08
51 B17 18 03/08/08
52 B29 18 03/19/08
53 B25 17 03/22/08
54 B44 17 02/02/08
55 B33 14 01/05/08
=========================
= end of pop report =


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