Lucky numbers don’t bring luck

The paper of among others Dr Rogier Potter van Loon, econometrician and behavioral economist at Erasmus School of Economics, and Tong Wang, PhD student at Erasmus School of Economics, has been covered by The Wall Street Journal on 9 October 2015. The scientists found that people who play their lucky numbers in lotteries, reduce their chances to win the full jackpot. 

This phenomena can be explained by the fact that some numbers are played more often as people consider them as their lucky numbers. For instance, the number ‘7’ and ‘11’ are very popular and numbers below 31 as well, as people often use meaningful dates such as birthdays or anniversaries. ‘These are numbers that follow you through life. You might pick these numbers more frequently. That’s indeed what we find.’ Says Tong Wang. Colleague Rogier Potter van Loon also mentions this during an interview for BNR Nieuwsradio, a Dutch business radio broadcaster: ‘People have a strong preference for personal numbers. You shouldn’t pick your lottery numbers based on personal reasons.’ To illustrate this, four numbers from the popular television series ‘Lost’ hit in the Mega Millions lottery. However, 40.000 people played these numbers, and had to share the millions with each other. This came down to an amount of 150 dollars per person. But when Julie Leach hit the jackpot last 30 September 2015 of 310.5 million dollars, she was the only one playing the winning combination. It turned out that her combination was an ‘easy pick’, randomly generated by the computer at her local Shell gas station. The numbers were meaningless but worth a fortune for her. 

More information

See below for the full article as published in The Wall Street Journal, 9 October 2015.

Click here to listen to the broadcast by BNR Nieuwsradio (Dutch), 14 October 2015.

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