By Armand Echeverry
Is it possible to use mathematics to win the lottery? Students from York College and John Adams High school who attended the Math and Computer Science Club meeting held Nov. 19 in Room 1CO7.
At the forum Prof. Lidia Gonzalez of the Math and Science Department discussed the approach students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took in order to win the Cash WinFall lottery.
In 2012, the Boston Globe published a story about three groups of bettors who wagered on one of Connecticut’s Lottery games, Cash WinFall, which started in 2005.
“There was a particular game in the Connecticut Lotto where these groups called gambling syndicates basically took over one of the lotto games and they ended up accounting for most of the winning tickets during certain times,” said Gonzalez. “They ended up making millions of dollars and they didn’t do anything illegal.”
A mixture of groups were involved, inventing a careful approach that would facilitate the winnings from a lottery game. Out of these groups was a team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who gave the lottery corporations a run for their money. James M. Harvey and Yuran Lu were the founders of Random Strategies Investments, the group responsible for winning the lottery.
“James was a senior looking for a fun project to work on during his senior year since he had some free time,” said Gonzalez. “Therefore, he decided to look into the lotto and after days passed, he found a way to win the lotto.”
In order to win, James needed many people to get lottery tickets to increase the chances of winning.
“Well there’s a ticket that has a certain amount of numbers printed on it and you pick a bunch of them. Depending on the game, that’s how many numbers you’re allowed to choose from. The regular New York lottery has 60, numbered one to 59. You must pick 6 of them,” said Gonzalez.
In addition to the main jackpot there are lesser prizes offered. Therefore, if you get four or five out of the six numbers, you win something too.
The biggest jackpot Cash WinFall can give out is $2 million. If nobody wins, then the residual money goes towards the lesser prizes.
Gonzalez evoked another scenario that matched with the Random Strategies Investment’s approach, but she used smaller numbers.
“There’s ten numbers ranging from zero to nine, so you have 10 choices for your first number and that’s one out of 10.” After much computation, there are 720 ways you could order three numbers out of ten and six different ways you could arrange those three numbers since order doesn’t matter.”
According to many media outlets, in 2012, the Connecticut lotto authority passed a resolution limiting the number of tickets that could be sold. It will require hard attempts for groups to obtain tickets since they’re no longer hidden from the eyes of the authority. Gonzalez concluded her speech by saying, “The moral of this story is if you know your math you could win tons of money and become lucrative.”