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Statisticians search for how to beat the lottery

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You've probably heard the saying: Liars figure, but figures don't lie. Well, it's probably true - the chances of winning a Powerball jackpot is more than 1 in 175-million! Still, there's always somebody that "thinks" they can beat the system.

Whether it's your wedding anniversary, your birthday, your child's birthday, or the date of another event that's important to you, people typically pick random numbers - as any state lottery official will tell you, every number drawn is completely random.

And while that maybe true, VCU Statistical Sciences professor - and self professed math geek - Darcy Mays believes, with a database of enough winning numbers, there is at least the "possibility" of seeing patterns develop. That by no means will guarantee a win, but might up the odds a little, especially in the smaller games - like Pick 3 or Pick 4.

"If you were dedicated, and there really was some pattern that you were finding, you could not get rich - but you could probably do a good supplemental earning."

"I just combine all these frequency - and I just make a list from the most frequent numbers to the least frequent numbers," said Dr. Min Su Kim.

Dr. Kim, professor of statistics at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, doesn't mess with the small games - he's compiled a computer data base of 10 years of winning Powerball numbers and the frequency at which they appear. If the game is completely random, he argues, all numbers should be drawn at approximately the same rate - but they don't.

The Powerball consists of five white balls and one red powerball. Dr. Kim says the most frequently drawn Powerball for the past 10 years is 20, followed by 37, 2, 31, and 35.

As for the white balls, the most frequently appearing number is 42, closely followed by 16, 35, 26, and 19.

Dr. Kim admits he is a believer in statistical probability.

"If you pick these numbers, there is more probability to win the grand prize." said Kim.

Not so fast, says John Hagerty, with the Virginia Lottery.

"Every number drawn is completely random," said Hagerty. "As for your odds of winning, they're posted on our website."

Powerball odds
MegaMillions odds

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