Punters dream of $20m jackpot

By Cassandra Mason

1 comment

Hopeful Northland punters are lining up for Lotto tickets ahead of tonight's $20 million Powerball draw.

But experts warn you're more likely to be attacked by a shark than hitting Lotto's jackpot.

Kamo Dairy and Lotto employee Teresa Scott expected today would be "extremely busy" as a last-minute surge of ticket hunters came looking to win big.

Sometimes, Lotto punters queue right out the door - especially when the prize is high, she says.

Coupled with Father's Day tomorrow, the crowds would be bigger than usual, she said.

The shop was popular with locals, having sold 10 first division and 75 second division tickets.

So there were a lot of familiar faces week after week.

However, Associate professor of statistics at the University of Auckland Ross Ihaka said the odds of winning tonight's $20 million windfall were one in 38 million.

"A comparable event would be if you tossed a coin 25 times and it came up heads every time."

To put that further into perspective, in the United States - which has the highest number of shark attacks worldwide - your chances of being attacked were one in 11.5 million.

But most people did not choose to focus on the negative, instead dreaming of all the things they could buy with the winnings, he said.

"Most of us aren't thinking about that low probability."

In New Zealand, a tax-free $20 million winning Lotto ticket could get you 12 average-priced houses in Auckland's Herne Bay - the country's most expensive suburb - or 70 average-priced homes in Northland.

There was no way to play strategically, but choosing numbers no one else picked meant you wouldn't have to split the cash with other winners, Dr Ihaka said.

"I just get a lucky dip because then it's going to be random."

Platform Trust chief executive Marion Blake said many people saw playing Lotto as an acceptable form of gambling because some lottery money funded community organisations.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'I'm going to buy a Lotto ticket but it's like donating to the community'."

But buying Lotto tickets was still gambling, Ms Blake said.

"The odds don't matter to people."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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