5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – why the Powerball winnings proved the 'experts' wrong

Business Insider SA
Lottery picks
  • The winning numbers in this week’s Powerball lottery draw were striking: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
  • A mathematician, as well as a previous lottery winner, believe picking consecutive numbers could be a winning strategy – as fewer people would choose it, and you won’t have to split your winnings.
  • But South Africans proved this theory wrong: 21 people chose the winning numbers.
  • For more articles, go to

Tuesday’s winning Powerball numbers were striking, and unheard of in local lottery history: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Still, twenty people chose these numbers, who each received R5.6 million.

Another person - who played via the FNB app - won the R5.8 million PowerBall PLUS jackpot.  

"This is a historical occasion – while there has been multiple jackpot winners from the same draw before, such as the R110 Million LOTTO jackpot that was shared by four people in January 2018, never has there ever been 21 jackpot winners in one night," said Busisiwe Msizi, head of corporate relations at lottery operator ITHUBA.

"While the winning numbers may not have been expected, this kind of sequence is common in lotteries worldwide. We have seen our own South African Lottery players opting for the sequence more and more. History and experience have taught us that it is common for multiple players to select the same winning numbers."

One winner from the PowerBall draw played via the Absa App, while eight came from Gauteng, followed by 3 in KwaZulu-Natal and 2 each in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. The Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State each had one winner.

This was the first PowerBall in the past twenty draws that anyone got all the right numbers – never mind twenty people.

Statistically, the chances of winning the lottery – with any numbers, including sequential numbers – are around 1 in 14 million. There shouldn’t be any difference between consecutive, or randomly placed, numbers.

But there are some who believe picking consecutive numbers could be a winning strategy, including the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy who studied results from the UK lottery for his book The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey through Everyday

“My advice is to pick consecutive numbers, like 31, 32, 33. Not many people do, but it is just as likely as any other combination. In fact, if you do win the jackpot with consecutive numbers, you probably won’t have to share it with as many other winners,” Du Sautoy told the Daily Mail.

The American Richard Lustig, who won a local lottery seven times, also advised people to use hand-picked sequential numbers.

But, as this week’s lottery shows, picking consecutive numbers does not seem to be a singular strategy. In the UK, 10,000 people choose that option each week, research showed.

Business Insider South Africa previously spoke to former Statistician General and head of Statistics South Africa, Dr Pali Lehohla, about how to increase the odds of winning. He warned that there is no easy formula to winning the lottery.

"There is no way in which you can calculate all the possibilities until you get the right one."

Trying to cover any decent percentage of the possibilities in five numbers and one bonus number will just bankrupt you, Lehohla warned.

There is one way to increase your odds, he says, and that is pooling together money. But not just by getting friends and family together – you'd need pretty much the entire country involved in your group to get the odds in your favour. 

What to consider: 

1. Play smart.

The odds are overwhelmingly against you, so have a budget and stick to it. The aim is to gain a few extra rands, not lose them, so only buy the number of tickets you can afford. Never ever use grocery and transport money.

2. Pick your own numbers.

Yes, sometimes winning numbers came from Quick Picks. However, that does not mean Quick Picks have any advantage. You may as well get the extra entertainment out of making up your own number selections.

3. Pool your money with others.

There is strength in numbers. The bigger your group, the better.

4. Pick different numbers.

Pick as many variations as possible. Also, feel free to repeat numbers you have played before. It doesn't really matter, so, again, have fun.

5. Avoid the 'Birthday Syndrome'.

If you stick to numbers based on significant birthdays, you're limiting your numbers to between 1 and 31. And because so many other people are also choosing birthdays, you may have to share your winnings. Your birthday has special properties for you, but not in Lotto selections.

6. Stay away from patterns

A popular option in choosing numbers is by making patterns on the lottery ticket: picking numbers on the same vertical or diagonal line, for example, or by forming a letter. This is cute, but remember that other people may also be doing it - you may have to share your jackpot.

7. Play responsibly.

Gambling is addictive. Remember, this is just a game.

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