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Lottery luck? Second lightning hit more likely

Fri., March 30, 2012

Before you spend too much time dreaming about spending your Mega Millions winnings, consider the odds: 1 in 176 million.

For gamblers, you’re 270 times more likely to be dealt a royal flush in a game of five-card draw poker, which is about 1 chance in 650,000. You are about three times more likely to be dealt a straight flush and a full house on successive hands than to have the winning ticket.

The odds you will get struck by lightning, a common reference point for some reason, are about 1 in 775,000 in any given year, the National Weather Service says. Your odds of getting struck by lightning sometime during your lifetime, if you live to be 80, are about 1 in 10,000 and your odds of getting struck twice by lightning in your lifetime are about 1 in 100 million, which is still more likely than winning this lottery.

For the average golfer, the odds of sinking a hole-in-one on a par 3 hole are 1 in 12,000. The odds of sinking successive holes-in-one are about 1 in 144 million, which is getting close to the Mega Millions odds, but still not quite there.

Christian Hansen, associate dean and professor of statistics at the Eastern Washington University Mathematics Department, said advice about picking numbers that he’s heard recently is just plain wrong, statistically speaking.

Some people say always pick your numbers, never let the machine pick them. Others say don’t pick the same series of numbers that has won previously.

“Both are incorrect, because any possible selection of numbers is equally likely to be any week’s winning numbers,” Hansen said. Picking a string of numbers like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in this six-digit lottery is as good a choice as something random.

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