Multiple Lottery Winner Joan Ginther: Luck or Loophole?
With the odds of winning the lottery being so low, it is always a surprise when one person manages to win not just once but multiple times in their lifetime. While some winners are happy to share the news about their wins and discuss their luck, one notable winner has got people talking because of the mystery surrounding her multiple wins. In this article, we’ll introduce you to multiple lottery winner Joan Ginther and explain why she’s captured the interest of lottery enthusiasts.
WHO IS JOAN GINTHER?
Joan Ginther has become somewhat of a legend in lottery circles thanks to her apparent luck at winning big. Ginther’s first notable win occurred in 1993, and the most recent headline-worthy occurred in 2010. Despite the interest and attention that came with winning the lotto on multiple occasions, Joan Ginther has never given an interview or spoken to the media. However, this silence hasn’t stopped people from asking questions, and much of what we know about Joan has come as a result of journalists investigating her story and analysing data from her lotto wins.
HOW MANY TIMES DID JOAN GINTHER WIN THE LOTTERY?
Joan Ginther has won big lottery prizes a total of four times. In 1993, she won $5.4 million from the Lotto Texas lottery. Her first big prize was paid out in yearly instalments for 20 years. The next wins came in quick succession, starting with a $2 million prize from the Holiday Millionaire scratch card in 2006. Joan didn’t claim another big prize until 2008 when she won $3 million from another scratch ticket, this one called Millions and Millions. Her final big win is her biggest to date: a $10 million prize from the $140,000,000 Extreme Payout game. Experts estimate that the odds of anyone winning the way Joan Ginther did are 1 in 200 million.
Though Joan’s big wins are well documented, several other, smaller prizes are attributed to her as well. Reports claim that Joan has actually won a total of 28 instant prizes worth $1,000 or more, and there is a theory that she may have won even more. Some reporters speculate that a friend of Joan’s named Anna Morales may have claimed prizes on Joan’s behalf. There are at least another two dozen prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 claimed by Morales, which, if they do belong to Joan, would bring her total to around 50 lottery wins. If that’s the case, it seems that Joan has much more than sheer luck on her side.
HOW MUCH MONEY DID JOAN GINTHER WIN?
Because of the mystery surrounding Joan Ginther, it is impossible to know precisely how much money she has won from playing the lottery. However, her four biggest wins alone total $20.4 million. Journalists who have tried to discover Joan’s secret to winning the lottery speculate that she may have purchased up to 100,000 lottery tickets. This means that while Ginther won an astounding amount of money by playing the lottery, she also spent a lot of time and money re-investing in the lottery.
Some estimates say Ginther likely spent around $3.3 million on tickets. However, thanks to tax breaks that allow gambling losses to be written off against winnings for federal tax returns, it’s likely that Ginther spent closer to $1 million. Not too bad when she’s won over $20 million in return.
THE TRUTH ABOUT JOAN GINTHER
While Joan Ginther’s incredible wins are compelling enough, her story becomes even more interesting the more you learn about her. For starters, unlike the majority of lottery winners, Joan has a Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford. Second, although she moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and remained there throughout her winning streak, all of her wins were from the Texas lottery. Third, two of her big prizes came from tickets purchased at the same store in Bishop, Texas.
This information has tantalized reporters and lotto industry experts, leading to speculation that Ginther may have found a way to cheat or game the system. Due to her refusal to answer interview requests, journalists have only been able to guess as to her strategies and motivations for driving past state lines to purchase tickets.
One journalist, in particular, Peter Mucha, writing for Philly.com, was determined to learn Joan’s secrets. In 2014, Mucha analysed Texas Lottery records and spoke to lottery experts about the possibilities behind Ginther’s success.
HOW DID JOAN GINTHER WIN SO MANY TIMES?
One thing that makes Joan Ginther unique from other multiple lottery winners, such as Jerry Selbee and Stefan Mandel who have developed strategies or taken advantage of loopholes is that Ginther’s wins have mostly come from scratch tickets rather than big lottery games such as Powerball. In his investigative series, Mucha speculates that Ginther simply took advantage of the guaranteed prizes that come with scratch tickets and of the way the state distributes the cards.
Mucha uses an example from a 2005 win of $2,000 from a Run the Table ticket. If Ginther had purchased one thousand tickets at $25 each, the out-of-pocket cost would only be about $8,275, not $25,000. This is because of the high rate of prize payback. With the Run the Table tickets, the amount of prize money paid back on one thousand dollars worth of tickets would have been approximately 66.9%, and that’s not counting the top three prizes. Mucha explains that Ginther, with her expertise in statistics, would have been able to figure out these rates using the lottery’s online page.
Mucha also speculates that Ginther chose Texas strategically because of its generous prizes, with multiple lotto games paying out multi-million-dollar top prizes. He also theorizes that Ginther was able to take advantage of certain information that the Texas state lottery reveals about their ticket—chiefly, the details on how many top prizes remain for any given scratch game. For example, when Ginther won $10 million, her prize was one of two left of a total three. At the time of her win, more than half of the tickets available had already been sold. Knowing that, her odds went from being 1 in 1.2 million when all 3.6 million tickets are available to 1 in 800,000.
After spending time investigating and writing about Joan Ginther, Mucha concluded that it is most likely that her wins can be attributed to more than simple luck. Taking into consideration her decision to live in Las Vegas, Mucha speculates that Ginther may be an advantage player, a gambler who focuses on ways to make a profit from the sport.
While there are many repeat lottery winners who attribute their wins to pure, blind luck, there may be a little more to the story of Joan Ginther. Whether Mucha’s speculations are correct or not, the mystery surrounding Joan is undoubtedly fascinating for lotto enthusiasts seeking to copy her success. Heck, we’d love to interview her ourselves!