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2-28 9:10am Tommy, lottery odds and luck

Feb 28, 2014|

Tommy talks to Ron Wasserstein, the Executive Director of the American Statistical Association, about lottery odds and whether luck exists

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

So here's the story yesterday about the guy in new York and they were counted earlier this guy. Once the buy X amount of tickets and give him wise series though it would ladies only ones in many goes brings -- its money back. And then when Sony time dollars on the scratch a decision on his right outside scratch in a way as feeble older they can't wait let me go get one more yeah. And he buys the exact ticket that he tried really to give back. -- gets taken back Winston million dollars a thousand miles a year for the rest of the week for the rest of his life where -- 101000 a week for the rest of his life thank you that's cash money coming in yet. So I did you know do you think some people are lucky and others I do you know people latest. They got their push you up you know where I don't know exactly what you're talking about which one are you I'm not one of -- -- I have never won anything you know raffle. I've never had unionized 5050 things they have at schools and I've never won. It'd be like lightning striking exactly the only thing and number one was a book in third grade for his spelling -- and I think actually earned Nana really know if I want to. So talk about that right now mathematically and and some of the attacks are coming in on good morning it's blessings not block OK now when says when it's your turn it's your return but it seems like some people. A lot more turns -- -- yeah I literally don't get the cut aligning come back. -- Ron Wasserstein joins us right now executive director the American statistical association. Good morning -- you do one. The mind saw him doing radio. Slightly freaked out by your previous story. About of funeral home. Here in imagined -- -- you know like it's only guy would have been running until Arizona. From Mississippi to -- finally been able to slow me down around Arizona. AdAware yeah. Violated business and -- -- let's talk about probability and winning it seems like we've had. A couple of repeat -- winners on about power balls but. State lotteries and really win one million in two million inning when the big prize while some of this can't even get a number. You heard about the guy that Dryden. Tried to get the ticket bag that he eventually. One on. As a mathematician and statistician. Are there are some people letter just luckier than others or is it all about the numbers. Felt that accurately a great question upon question something that I have. Enjoyed thinking about talking with people about a year. I want to quickly 400 that there is a now why did I get but by. -- that decision by the name of David and that it came out it's called you probability principle and it addresses these things. Indeed failed -- eager listeners who would be incline. And sure. What what makes this story -- here in New York so compelling is that it's surprising. He. Almost gave up ticket that was the winning ticket and it happened in a way that we view it being meaningful and yet not. You know an abstract not connected. And purchased that ticket as part of the original and he bought for example I mean we wouldn't be happening on me. People lotteries there's a lot of lottery. Overweight if he wouldn't run him if you -- once when he five anyone -- on bank. And bought the other ticket so in that case you're saying it's not Providence it's not blessings it's not meant to be ages. The tickets that haven't lineup that way. A statistical standpoint which what is what I'm trying to do you realize that on an individual level things like it. Very lucky depending on your view the world providential whatever it might be. But on the collective. It's not that surprising there are a lot of lottery people play them all the time they've been played for years. And so there's this story associated with. Every time you play many signs of this story is that is this story about not winning and so it's not as an example. Which tend to be selective in the things week we remember you might very well remember the time you were thinking of someone at that very moment that person called. You think about all the other phone calls -- more thinking about the person or. Are all the things that you you dreamed that didn't happen as like the one that you dream but it. Our guests even the people you thought about that didn't call right you know that doesn't mean anything today. Right after the other night and write your immediate thought you'll. I don't think anyone played that match. Where an -- Beckum for a place in the net stuff anyway here -- Bryant and you laugh at our core -- so tell me and then about probability is is it relates to. Likelihood because. I get enough help -- saying it right but it seems to me like if you flip a -- nine times. And it comes -- hands. Even you go to -- attempt time even know each occurrence has a 5050 probability. You kind of know damn well is gonna come up -- on Tehran. We get really go. But that is -- happy. Most common misconceptions and. It's understandable that conception. It it it goes against our situation for one thing and apparently it. Sort of took scientists mathematicians. Thousands of years we get to the point where. That can be understood and expressed mathematically. It as individuals allot time to grab it. That sometimes sequences get happening -- that let. If that point there that can't let this bill that it. Have you never though anecdotally. You're professional training and education aside. Did with people where it always seems like they win. Well I. Personally. That an unusual things happen I've respond to in the same way -- sitting on an airplane and I ironic that the company. Haven't seen in years and whether coincident that -- vote there. I'm surprised about that they do but when you think about it from a collective standpoint. Surprising things than usual things happen all the time it happened you were meal. So while I'm sitting here telling a story of raffle tickets and on golf tournaments they they keep -- names silly given away basically the spoons out of the kitchen. Never won anything on my body is that because it seems as -- Lander is many things. As anybody else you know these 5050 things that. You know I've you know that is radiated ticket it's a fund raiser and then they take the other have to take and give out half of much monies given away. Now by Tony thirty tickets so you would think I would be increasing my -- but yet in four years never won anything. Well that. Important it is because I'm not lucky that's what I'm trying to Italian. Well. What you think about it. And individual standpoint. The next time you play and have it in something like that your chances are just the same as they were all of the previous times. And by that you mean crappy. I -- -- -- that they big idea of these things of course. If you get to raise money needed that indicate that though Louisiana lottery or the New York lottery or whatever. The purpose is to raise money for the state it's not it is not so you can win on it not that people like that it can win money primarily. It's a fund raiser for the state of Louisiana. I have a theory on lottery tickets -- its not about winning. That you buy these tickets to give you another day or two of hope until a drawing. And -- should realize you didn't win you buy another one for another day or two and keep -- hope that this is your -- gives you -- and and some look forward to like this is your ticket out. So maybe people delude themselves that way I don't know but I got to ask you do you buy lottery tickets. Well liked out I've asked that all the time and at this point I have. Written and spoken on this subject so much I'd probably just don't dare I will comment that your that your hope. Statement makes a lot of the thing I'll worry about and that is not a -- -- worried that the personal worries that. That that I worry about the people who who spent the money that they don't have it in hopes that all the way out. As an example. That you have power ball is in Louisiana and that today I'll get to be a very. Big prize the chances you buy the winning powerball. Ticket that big -- ticket. 175. Million. That it is so small. It's hard to understand that here. I like my chances drama on just an optimistic guy. Yeah you know it with all of -- here having that one yeah. Oh yeah exactly that's. Well in -- that -- his family to give back to appoint a second but that the same person that things Lincoln Park in heavily meter mated area. For ten minutes in ninety caught thinks that they're gonna win the one and -- 175 million job right. I've posted that mentality. So if you want an outlet at. 175. Million is like thank you that this way. Imagine 175000001. Dollar bills freshly -- one of those dollar bills. Had you -- picture on it the lucky dollar bail and yet you picked. Out of all the under 75 million dollar bills. Don't want with your picture on it you win lot how how much is 175 million. 100 dollar. Bill well you could lay out dollar bills on the football field the the superdome. And each dollar -- that. -- -- 381. Dollar -- on every. Spot on the football playing area of the superdome and get your chance of a picking that lucky one dollar bills are 175. Million. So the entire field of the dome stacked with dollar bills 38 high 30380. Hi yeah. So are you trying to tickle in my hope for the drawing MR nine isn't it -- Let me ask you this seriously when it comes odds -- -- sometimes you know the jackpot gets up there to even go -- fifty a hundred dollars in tickets. -- likelihood either probability. Does that really. Increase your chances of winning that much yet I guess if you look at 100 dollars might be worth to you as -- those ages two for one ticket. So it's certainly true that if you via ticket instead of one. You have. Increase your chance of winning by 100 times. So it's a 10075. Million right that it. Got to. Do you not believe at all. And -- very intelligent man you not at all believe in -- game and not any little part of view or about. Destiny or whatever you call -- Providence. There are want to be a part of me that are inclined. To believe that way. And then there's also the practical part of me that what am I gonna do what sort of choices and -- and make it. The kind of -- I'm gonna make it is not review. One and 175. Million chance as being something very well. So when it comes to. Things like dad in Providence yard says yes but your mind and your wallets they held no. I might in my wallet pay a very fair about this run appreciate you taking the time and enjoy talking to the and next year to announcement -- grow with that. Great take care.

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