The Euromillions jackpot rolled over to an incredible €185 million, and was won by a single ticket. The odds of any random set of numbers matching the numbers selected is around 116 million to one against. This article answers several questions:
- How did the Euromillions jackpot become so large?
- How are the Euromillions numbers chosen?
- Why are the odds of winning so low?
- What could the winner do with £161 million?
How Did the Euromillions Jackpot Become so Large?
The Euromillions lottery takes place every Tuesday and Friday. In the event that the top prize is not won, it is added to the jackpot for the next draw, and is known as a “roll-over”. The odds of winning the jackpot are very low – about one in 116 million – and roll-overs are very common. Another factor that makes the jackpot so large is the massive number of players: there are around 300 million people in Europe, and about 10 million tickets are bought for each draw. The jackpot has reached it’s absolute maximum, since lottery rules means that it is capped at €185 million.
How are Euromillions Numbers Chosen?
There are two panels in each Euromillions ticket. The first panel contains the numbers 1 to 50, and the second panel (containing the “Lucky Star” numbers) contains the numbers 1 to 11. The contestant chooses five numbers from the first panel, and two “Lucky Star” numbers from the second panel. The lowest prize is obtained by matching just two of the numbers from the first panel. The jackpot prize is won by matching all five numbers from the first panel, and both numbers from the second “Lucky Star” panel.
Why are the odds of winning so low?
The mathematics of winning the lottery jackpot are easy enough to follow. The chances of picking the first number from the first panel are 5 / 50. Now the second number cannot be the same as the first, so the odds of choosing the second number is 4 / 49. Likewise, for the third number the odds are 3 / 48, and the chances of choosing the fourth and fifth numbers are 2 / 47 and 1 / 46 respectively. The “Lucky Star” numbers follow a similar pattern. The odds of picking the first number are 2 / 11, and then 1 / 10.
Multiplying the odds of all these events together, the overall chances of winning the jackpot are:
(5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 x 2 x 1) ÷ (50 x 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 11 x 10)
Cancel out to simplify: the top line = 5 x 48, and the “5” on the top line cancels with the “50” on the bottom line to leave 10, so the odds are therefore:
1 ÷ (10 x 49 x 47 x 46 x 11 x 10)
= 1 in 116,531,800
What Could be Done with £116 million?
Getting a one-off, tax-free cheque for £161 million / €183 million / $240 million is hard to imagine. The sum is more than the nett worth of the Beckhams. Interest per year would be around £5 million / €6 million / $8 million. The recipient could buy a brand new jet, or an island, and still have plenty left over.