Ireland was swept by over-hyped lottery fever over the last few weeks. We haven’t had a winner in ages for the jackpot, so it stood at the nigh-on irresistible E16m. Irresistible to me that is – I normally steer clear of the “tax on ignorance” that the lottery undoubtedly is, but in the spirit of fun and to dream for a bit, I bought four lines for myself.
Lo and behold, I was sitting there at around 8pm on Saturday night, looking at my ticket and the RTE Aertel page that displays the numbers. My heart took a small leap when my brain registered the rough outline of a total match. Seriously, for a brief few seconds I was genuinely stunned when all I could see were my numbers on screen. The aertel page was flitting, annoyingly, between the real Lotto numbers and the Lotto Plus One and Lotto Plus Two extra numbers. At first, I didn’t register which one it was, and also mistakenly thought I might have matched all six numbers! Imagine my surprise and excitement (if only for a brief five seconds or so). Thoughts of Cancun beaches and pina colados flitted through my enervated consciousness.
Until that is, I realised the numbers had changed on-screen. They were now displaying the numbers for the main jackpot lotto, which were different, so I had to calm down. I quickly realised I must have been looking at the Lotto Plus Two numbers, but still wasn’t sure how many I had matched, thinking it still might be six. I thought that might be 100,000 or more. Not 16 million, but nothing to be sniffed at. I waited patiently for the numbers to come back around, and then rechecked the numbers. Aaargh! I had matched only 5 of them. Drat! And the prize…a measly E250! I had managed to match five numbers and the prize was a lousy 250 euros. The month in the Carribean was suddenly replaced by one night in Bray…in a tent. In the rain.
Today, I have checked the odds of getting 5 numbers on the Irish lotto (it is a 6/45 game apparently, meaning 6 numbers drawn from 45 numbers). The odds are 1 in 34,808. The cost of this line was 25 cent, so the lotto is returning approximately 1/34th of my odds back to me. If I had placed a bet with Paddy Power, or another bookmaker, I might have expected odds of 1-10,000 or so, on picking 5 from 6 numbers. That would have returned around 4,000 euros. (They actually only offer odds on correctly picking 5 from 5 numbers, at 100,000-1. But the principle is still valid: the odds are far better!)
Still, as they say, E250 is better than a kick in the head or a poke in the eye…