The Strange Case of Pennsylvania's Multiple Lottery Winners

The Strange Case of Pennsylvania's Multiple Lottery WinnersThe Pennsylvania state lottery has got statisticians baffled, with the number of multiple ticket winners far in excess of any reasonable predictions for the game. Interestingly, the story seems to have first been picked up by Pennsylvania news source,, leading to the Office of the Auditor General subsequently launching an investigation into the improbable phenomena.
According to PennLive, between the year 2000 and 2016 more than two hundred Pennsylvanians individually claimed for 50 winning lottery tickets each worth over $600 apiece. While it is nice to believe that the incredible win rate may be down to just good luck, there are less savoury explanations as to the implausible occurence, and as PennLive noted:
“Investigations into unusually frequent winning in other states have sometimes found their wins rooted in crime: from retailers secretly stealing winning tickets from prize claimants; to cheating; to schemes that facilitate debt evasion or money laundering.”
One of the explanations mentioned is referred to as “discounting,” with the practice involving a lottery winner selling on their ticket at a discount to a third-party in order to avoid having outstanding debts deducted by the state from their lottery win, including taxes or unpaid child support.
One such criminal enterprise was discovered this year in New York, for instance, after Eduardo Moran-Barrera, 63, was found to had claimed for 686 winning tickets worth $1.48 million over a five-year period, with his partner in crime Neil Ferguson, 50, also claiming for 91 winning tickets worth $273,139.
Nevertheless, no matter how improbable the occurrence, there are still those lottery winners that seem to defy the odds for no other reason than their own incredible good fortune. Clarance Jones, 79, from Massachusetts, for instance, is the USA’s luckiest lottery winner having bought more than 7,300 winning tickets for $10.8 million. According to a University of California statistician, even if Jones had spent $300 million on lottery tickets, he still would only have had a 1-in-10 million chance of accomplishing such a feat.
Back in Pennsylvania, Susan Woods, spokeswoman for the Auditor General’s Office, has stressed her department’s determination to get to the bottom of the spate of multiple lottery winners highlighted by the PennLive investigation, staing:
“We will also be reaching out to the Attorney General’s Office to discuss what might be the next best steps to ensure the integrity of Pennsylvania’s lottery.”

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