Did you know that you have more chances of getting fried by a bolt of lightning than winning the lottery? And even if you did win, the odds are still stacked against you.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) UltraLotto 6/58 pot reached P1 billion on Tuesday, October 9, the biggest ever since 2010’s P741 million. But even with hundreds of thousands of bettors flocking to lottery outlets on Tuesday night, no one won the jackpot.
A total of 113 bettors came close to guessing the winning combination of 12-16-46-03-38-36, getting only five out of six numbers right. They each won P158,760,
Now that the P1-billion Ultralotto 6/58 jackpot is still up for grabs, we’re pretty sure that you already have plans on which 10 digits you will play to try your luck.
It’s time you know what the odds are of getting the lucky six digits—and what lies beyond the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Can you game probability?
Pretty sure you’ve heard many of different “strategies” from people who regularly bet on the lottery. Some of them “take care” of their numbers while others wait for winning combinations in their dreams. However, everyone knows that games like the lottery are merely games of chances and these techniques cannot actually affect the outcome of the draw.
With strategies ruled out, it is time look at a much more scientific approach to the lottery: the theory of probability. Unfortunately, there are many considerations you have to look into first, such as the game’s disregard for the order of the numbers and the lack of repetitions toward the numbers drawn. Once these factors are in play, we can start determining how many possible outcomes there are in a single draw.
The Ultra Lotto 6/58 game is broken down into two factors: you get six random digits out of 58 numbers in the lottery drum. According to the PCSO, all balls have the exact same weight and a machine automates the mixing of the machines in the transparent chamber and the draw of the balls.
A post by u/NotAikoYumi on reddit says there are exactly 40,475,350 combinations in the 6/58 Ultra Lotto game, where each appearing number in the six-digit combination does not reoccur.
Let’s say that you’re adamant at getting the winning combination. That means that you have to bet on all 40 million combinations. At P24 apiece, it will cost you P971,408,400 to place a bet on all combinations! This means that a single ticket has a 0.00000247063 percent chances of winning.
For comparison, the odds of getting struck by lightning are 1 in 960,000 or 0.00010416666 percent. Meanwhile, the probability of you getting struck by a second bolt of lightning is 0.00001111111 percent. There is a huge chance that a lightning will turn you to a lechong manok first before you win the lottery.
Now, with the jackpot currently at P1 billion, you might think that you can do this and still operate with a profit. Unfortunately, we have bad news for you.
Under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), winnings above P10,000 from all the games conducted by the PCSO are now subject to 20-percent tax. This section of the TRAIN covers lottery, Keno, Small Town Lottery, and sweepstakes.
This entitles the government to a “revenue of up to P1-billion from various lottery games due to the 20-percent tax on lottery winnings.”
Originally, the National Internal Revenue Code considered lottery winnings as non-taxable income. However, the Duterte administration’s implementation of the TRAIN Law made sure that the government would be able to collect taxes across all revenues. This time, lottery winners aren’t spared.
Since the current jackpot that would potentially breach the P1-billion mark hasn’t been announced yet, let’s just use P1 billion as a baseline.
If you win this after betting on all 40 million combinations, then you’ve spent P971 million on all tickets—yet your take-home payout will just be P800 million. That’s a serious loss of around P171 million!
If you want to at least break even, you must consider the entire P971 million as your take-home pay, which means that jackpot should reach at least P1.165 billion. If the pot is above that, you’re already operating on a profit.
However, you also have to consider that some people might bet on the same winning combination so if you have a co-winner, then you’re all out of luck.
Not only that the odds are stacked against your favor, but they also require a massive operation to pull off. Reddit user u/NotAikoYumi further computed that it would require you around three days, almost 3,000 ticket operators, and an equal number of machines to bet on all 40 million combinations.
More than dreams of winning numbers, you need a huge amount, patience, and a trip down the spiral of insanity to become a sure winner of the lottery. Good luck with that.
Conning the con job
Let’s take a closer look at the idea of “strategy.”
You might think that some numbers are inherently lucky—and we respect your belief. If you really believe that luck gives you an edge against statistical improbability, then we have a proposal for you.
In another post at the subreddit r/Philippines, Reddit user u/kukote2 computed for the number of times a certain digit appeared on the winning lotto combination. Based on his post, 24 out of 58 numbers appeared more than 10 times in the winning combinations since February 18, and they are:
Meanwhile, the ones italicized and made bold were the ones that that made it to the winning combination more than 14 times.
If you think these numbers are actually the keys to the kingdom, feel free to use them. However, going against probability isn’t your biggest enemy.
A history of violins
If you win the lottery, you might think that your life will finally change for the better. You will probably buy one of the hottest franchises today, invest in the stock market, or save up for retirement. Or maybe just throw parties for weeks. After all, a little celebration won’t hurt, right?
However, the odds are still tilted against you, if we look at the history of previous lottery winners.
In 2002, a jackpot winner ended up dead and robbed after masked men entered his house, took his newly bought van and an undetermined amount of cash, and killed him. After winning the lottery, reports said he hosted parties every night for two weeks—which became the window of opportunity for robbers to snuff out his luck and his life.
Meanwhile, a 2004 winner started to experience financial troubles after using the P82-million prize to buy “six houses and three vehicles, embark on several business ventures, give his family property, help out people in need, and fund the construction of a barangay church and basketball court.”
But three members of the family fell ill and the hospital bills started to pile up. After the tragedy, the said winner was only left with a house, a motorcycle, and a fishpond.
Philippines Graphic Magazine states in a report there were several instances where the winners didn’t get the chance to turn their fortunes around despite winning the lottery:
- A widower lost all her winnings after she shared his bank account with her son, prompting the latter to take all the money and flee.
- A woman who won the lottery in 1997 ended up losing all her money and ended up having a stage IV cancer and asking the PCSO for medical assistance.
- A farmer was being persuaded by a priest to put his winnings in his sister’s bank account after the sibling promised to donate a huge chunk of their winnings to their local church, with the farmer’s fate unknown.
It’s hard not to think that even if you win the jackpot, you still have a lot to lose—sometimes, your life included—after you get the money. Aside from friends and family members suddenly popping out of nowhere for the ever dreadful balato, you also have criminal elements who are always looking for their next victim.
Self against self
If chance and your surroundings are tilted against you, then you might think that you can only rely on yourself when you become the big winner. Unfortunately, even your own mind is working against you.
Fortunately, psychology has an answer to this.
In an article written by Dr. Robert Puff on Psychology Today, lottery winners might experience bliss after finding out they’re millions richer than yesterday. However, this happiness won’t last forever and even the luckiest people among us are bound to obey the laws of emotional gravity: What goes up must come down. They call this “hedonic adaptation.”
“So as much as we can indulge in something and it may provide us a temporary boost in pleasure, we will inevitably return to our set point for happiness,” Puff wrote. “We hedonically adapt to our circumstances.”
To help you understand hedonic adaptation, think of yourself as a first-time car owner. When you drove your vehicle out of the dealership, we’re pretty sure you’re ecstatic about it.
However, the high gradually decreases and your car merely becomes a part of your routine. One day, you see another car and teel yourself, “I want that.” You work hard for it and when you finally get it, you’re elated again. Rinse and repeat.
A research on Dutch lottery winners by Peter Kuhn and his peers also echoed the same sentiment.
After studying the consumption of winners of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the researchers found out that most winners in the Netherlands would spend their newfound fortune on two things: cars and durable expenditures. However, these expenses still didn’t translate into household happiness in the long run.
Meanwhile, a research published by the American Journal of Economics and Sociology cited that people, especially from the lower class, turn to the lottery for two things: entertainment and an attempt to escape their current situation. The thrill of winning the jackpot juxtaposed with a person’s dreary economic conditions can create a perfect condition for big lotto spendings.
The said study cited that there is a strong relationship between sales of lotto tickets and poverty rates in the United States. In states where there is a higher poverty threshold, lotto ticket sales are much higher than those that have a lower number of people below the poverty line.
To win the 6/58 Ultra Lotto, you need an improbable stroke of luck. However, it seems like the real problem lies beyond getting your numbers drawn.
If you win the lottery, you may want to use your new fortune wisely, invest in the long run, and stay away from friends and family who will ask you to give them a gratuity.