Watching TV with a notepad nearby paid handsomely for Bridget Koelsch of Newalla. Koelsch was among several Oklahomans who chose their Powerball numbers from a show telecast Sunday on The Learning Channel. The show, "How the Lottery Changed My Life,” ran a set of six numbers the show claimed hit most frequently. As if on cue, five of those six numbers were picked during Wednesday's Powerball drawing. The odds of that happening for any drawing are 1 in 584,432, said Jim Scroggins, executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery. The chance of it happening so quickly can't be calculated, he said. Koelsch was hardly alone while standing in line to collect her $20,000 prize Thursday. "There were four other people who were there while I was there who had picked their numbers from the TV show,” she said.Comments
More winners than usualAt least 16 tickets sold in Oklahoma for Wednesday's drawing are worth $10,000 or more. That number far exceeds the norm, Scroggins said. Koelsch matched four of the five regular numbers plus the Powerball number. Nationally, Powerball officials expected 29 winners at that level, based on sales before Wednesday's drawing. Instead, there were 256 such tickets, lottery officials said. "It's the most winners I've ever seen,” said Scroggins, who has been in the lottery industry 29 years. The only comparable event he could recall came last year, also in a Powerball drawing. Officials traced that phenomenon to "a new batch of fortune cookies that went out” shortly before the drawing, Scroggins said. Most fortune cookies list lucky numbers for lottery players. A ticket purchased in Kentucky won Wednesday's $61.5 million Powerball jackpot. The TV show wasn't a factor for the winners, a group of current and former co-workers at a printer cartridge plant. They let a computer choose their numbers, said Chip Polston, a Kentucky lottery spokesman. The biggest Oklahoma winner, Denise Moore of Pond Creek, won $200,000 by matching the five "regular” balls. Moore also let a computer choose her numbers.
Combo lacks winning historyThe TV show listed the six "most likely to hit” numbers as 8, 25, 31, 50, 44 and 54. The winning Powerball combination was 25, 27, 31, 44 and 54, with 8 as the Powerball number. Calls to The Learning Channel weren't returned Thursday. Chuck Strutt, head of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, said he was curious how the TV show chose its numbers, but that his calls weren't returned, either. It's clear the television show didn't pick its numbers just from Powerball, however. In the nine drawings preceding Wednesday's, never was more than one of the TV show's numbers picked. Correctly choosing one of the six numbers is worth, at most, $3. In seven of those nine drawings, none of the television show's numbers were drawn. In Powerball drawings dating to Aug. 31, 2005, six numbers have been drawn 30 or more times. None of those are among the six cited by the TV show. In fact, two of the six have been among the least-frequently chosen Powerball numbers during the last two years. "You know what it shows?” Scroggins asked. "It's purely chance.” Koelsch, the Oklahoman who won $20,000, said she buys $5 in Powerball tickets a week. With Wednesday's drawing approaching, she found herself with just $2 in her pocket. She bought one ticket and used the other dollar for the PowerPlay option, which can multiply winnings. In Koelsch's case, it doubled the value of her winning ticket. Coincidentally, the same night of the TV show, Koelsch and her husband talked of a plan to pay off their credit cards. Her winning ticket provided that plan, she said. As for the numbers she scribbled down from the cable TV show? "I'll continue to play them,” Koelsch said.
Is it all in the numbers?Since Aug. 31, 2005, these six numbers have been chosen in 30 or more Powerball drawings. The TV show "How the Lottery Changed My Life" listed the six "most likely to hit” numbers as 8, 25, 31, 50, 44 and 54.