How Often Do Lottery Numbers Repeat?
Out of the many theories available today that claim to help you win the lottery jackpot, there is one that stands out for being the most absurd. The theory that we are talking about states that if you choose the winning numbers of a draw and play them week in and week out, they will eventually be drawn again and will make you a winner.
You may have heard this theory. You may have even tried it yourself or know someone who has tried it. However, this—like so many others—is just another theory that has no basis. Or is it? Many people have asked the question of how often do lottery numbers repeat? In this article, we will look at what the answer to this question is, and in so doing put to bed a popular lottery theory in the process. So, let’s jump right in.
Can Lottery Numbers Repeat?
As you may imagine, the answer to this question is not as simple as saying yes or no. In reality, the answer is yes—lottery numbers are undoubtedly capable of repeating and appearing more than once, twice, or even three times. However, if we continue looking at this scenario realistically, the chances of this happening are astronomical. Let us explain.
Imagine you are watching a draw for the US Powerball. During this draw, the following numbers appear: 5, 18, 26, 34, 39, and 20 (with 20 being the Powerball). As many of us know, the odds of winning the US Powerball are 1 in 292,201,338. That means that the odds of this combination being drawn are also 1 in 292,201,338.
During the next draw, the same number pool consisting of 69 possible standard numbers and 26 possible Powerballs are used to select the winning numbers. The fact that the numbers 5, 18, 26, 34, 39, and 20 were drawn the previous draw becomes entirely irrelevant. This means that the odds of this combination appearing are still at 1 in 292,201,338.
As you can see then, lottery numbers can repeat themselves—mathematically speaking—but the odds of this occurring are incredibly slim.
Do Lottery Numbers Repeat?
Since we have answered the question of whether or not lottery numbers can repeat, the next logical question is if they ever do. Again, the answer to this question is yes. Again looking at the US Powerball, you may be surprised to know that the exact same winning combination has occurred more than once.
On April 3, 1993, the US Powerball held a draw that ended with the winning numbers being 15, 22, 24, 32, 39, and 18 (with 18 being the Powerball). A mere seven years later, on December 27, 2000, the exact same numbers made an appearance.
If we continue to look at the US Powerball as an example, we can see more cases where numbers appeared more than once. In these instances, they may not have included the Powerball, and so only matched the five main numbers. However, even matching five numbers holds odds of 1 in 3,162,510. The following four number sequences have each made an appearance twice during the lifespan of the draw:
- 1, 5, 25, 63, 67
- 18, 43, 58, 60, 68
- 2, 4, 7, 43, 56
- 2, 13, 20, 21, 23
How Often Do Lottery Numbers Repeat?
Now that you know that lottery numbers can—and do—repeat themselves, you may be asking how often this happens. Unfortunately, this is the question that is hard to answer, and there is certainly no pattern to their frequency because lottery draws are random events. No number in the number pool knows how many times it has been drawn, when last it was drawn, or even if it has ever been drawn. This means that, as mentioned above, the odds of a number appearing in a second, third, or even fourth draw are precisely the same as they were when it first appeared.
As is the very nature of the lottery, this random way in which the numbers are drawn makes it a guessing game of what numbers will appear. The truth is, however, that this guessing game is not limited to the players who are clutching their tickets to see if they won. It extends to the lottery operators themselves—who are just as surprised to see what numbers appear each draw.
Because of this randomness in the way that the numbers appear, there is no way to tell how often any lottery number will repeat. All that we can do is calculate estimates of hot and cold numbers to try and guess what the next numbers will be. Even this, however, is not without its own limitations.
All this means that theories like the one we mentioned earlier do carry some weight in the sense that their theory behind winning is possible. Unfortunately, you may be stuck playing the same numbers for over 20 years before you get a win—if ever. Therefore, theories like this are best to be left at that—just theories and not practices.
At the end of the day, playing the lottery comes with the thrill of the unknown, and there are many lottery myths that get passed around. If we were able to answer the question of how often lottery numbers repeat, then there would be an influx of player with winning tickets each time numbers were set to repeat. This, in turn, would cause winning jackpots to be shared amongst large numbers of players and would cause the whole point of winning a jackpot to be moot.
Therefore, it may seem like a disadvantage that we cannot calculate when lottery numbers will repeat—especially considering that we know that they can and that we have proof from massive international lotteries that this does actually occur. However, it may also be one of the most significant advantages that we have in keeping the lottery the game of luck, chance, and thrill that we have always love it for being.