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Six Lotto jackpot winners? There's more chance of Bono becoming Pope...

The odds on the draw having six winners are “billions to one” — but it happened on Saturday night.

Image: Markus Schreiber/AP/Press Association Images

IT’S THE VERY definition of a ‘first world problem’ — still, Saturday night’s Lotto jackpot winners can’t have been thrilled to discover they’d be sharing the main prize six ways rather than banking the entire €3.5 million amount.

The jackpot winners will get €588,144 each — not bad for a few euros outlay, but obviously not quite as good as a cheque for €3,528,865.

So, what are the odds of such an unlikely event coming to pass? Confident in the knowledge that the task of calculating the chances was a little out of the comfort zone of anybody at TheJournal.ie, we asked the experts over at Mathstutor.ie.

Here’s what company founder Eamon Toland came up with (you may have to read it more than once):

There are 45 numbers in the Irish Lotto.  Out of these, players must choose six different numbers correctly to win the jackpot.

The number of possible combinations is based on a calculation known as nCr e.g. 45C6.  This means “out of 45, Choose 6″.  You can do this using the nCr button on your calculator, or by punching in (45x44x43x42x41x40)/(6x5x4x3x2x1).  This gives you 8,145,060.

So, the chances of you picking the 6 numbers if you play one line are 1 in 8,145,060.  How do you like those odds?

And of course, anyone else can pick the same numbers, meaning that, in the extremely unlikely event that you win, you might have to share it with one or more other winners.  The chances of this happening depends on how many lines are played.

As an example, if there are 1.5 million individual lines played, then the odds of exactly 6 winners are approximately 22.6 million to 1.

But if there are only 700,000 individual lines played, then the odds are almost 2 billion to 1.

It’s not true to say (as has been reported elsewhere) that you can simply multiply by six to calculate the chances of six people sharing the jackpot.

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By way of context, the folks at Paddy Power have provided a couple of accumulator options for events they estimate are far more likely to happen:

  • Over 3 million to one: Bono to be the next Pope (1,000/1) & Alec Baldwin to be the next US President (300/1)
  • Over 5 million to one: New York to win the All Ireland Football Championship (5,000/1) & Ireland to win Euro 2016 (100/1)
  • Over 37 million to one: Marty Morrisey to be the next James Bond (5,000/1) & Nikita Murray* to be Justin Bieber’s next girlfriend (750/1)
  • Over 50 million to one: Crystal Palace to win the Premier League (10,000/1) & Carlow to win the All Ireland Hurling Championship (500/1)
  • Over 100 million to one: Jedward to be the next Irish President(s) (10,000/1) & Roy Keane to be the next Taoiseach (1,000/1)

So — whatever else, at least the lucky ticket holders from the weekend can draw some satisfaction from the fact that they were part of what was an incredibly unlikely mathematical event.

A National Lottery spokesperson said Saturday’s draw had been a record-breaker — previously, the highest number of ticket-holders to share a jackpot on the current 45-number game was three.

*A ‘Tallafornia’ person.

Read: Daily Mail assumes that woman named Mary Bono is Bono’s wife

Read: 11 uplifting moments to brighten up your Blue Monday

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