Are Winning Lottery Numbers Repeated?

[Q] “I read in the paper that somebody won the jackpot, carried on playing using the same lucky numbers, and won the jackpot again just a short while later! Is it true jackpot numbers are repeated?”

[A] Yes and no!

Yes, any set of numbers can be repeated. Lottery balls have no memory, they don’t remember if they got drawn last week or any other week. That means, mathematically speaking[1], they have just as much chance of being drawn again this week.

In fact, mathematically speaking[1], last weeks winning numbers have exactly the same chance of being drawn again this week.

So why does it ‘never happen’?

Because the chances of those numbers being drawn again are exactly the same as the chances of any other set of numbers being drawn. And that’s why it “never” happens. Not because they are now suddenly less likely, but because there are millions of other combinations each just as likely to come up.

Think of a dice.

If you throw a 6, then roll again, are you now more or less likely to get a 6?

The 6 is still there on the dice exactly the same as it was before. So of course, it still has the same 1 in 6 chance of being rolled. There is more chance of ‘not rolling a 6’, but only because there are 5 other numbers there. Just like before you rolled the 6 in the first place.

So yes, any set of numbers can be repeated. But they are not more or less likely to be drawn again just because they have appeared before.

Have Winning Lottery Numbers Ever Been Repeated?

So has it ever happened?

Yes, it has. More than you might think.

Take the US Powerball for example, the numbers 15, 22, 24, 32, 39 and Powerball 18 were first drawn on 3rd April 1993. The exact same numbers were drawn again on 27th December 2000 (thanks Bruce).

So yes, the Powerball numbers have repeated! Bear in mind this is for a game with extremely tough odds. So if it can happen for that game, it can happen for any game.

If you think this was crazy, there has also been a Pick 6 game where winning lottery numbers repeated the very next draw – you can read about it here.

Does It Matter?

There is some danger in this. Some people think winning numbers are more likely to be drawn again, so they teach that to other people. Problem is, these myths get around, and then lots of people end up doing the same thing.

So if you pick numbers that have won the jackpot before – you could end up sharing the jackpot with everyone else who picks those numbers too…

[1] P.S. I know I keep saying ‘mathematically speaking’. The reason is too complex to get into in depth here. But we’re assuming a perfectly random draw, whereas it is theoretically possible for some bias to exist in any lottery draw. It doesn’t really change the answer in terms of repeat numbers (i.e. that combinations being drawn does not in itself make them more or less likely), but it can mean certain numbers are slightly more or less likely than others. In theory. Whew!

• David

Of course numbers will repeat, but out of the possible 14 million outcomes, you will never get 14 million outcomes. You will only get 2 thirds, approx 9.3 million. This is the same with most games of chance. But this won’t help you win the lotto. This is called the law of third.

• Lottery-Guy.com

Hmm, problem with the law of thirds is that it doesn’t work in the short term, or the long term…

Take a dice roll for example. Are you really saying if you keep on rolling that dice two of the six numbers will NEVER come up..?

Ultimately all combinations will get drawn on the lottery. But we’ll all be long dead by the time it happens.

• David

Yes we will all be dead before all combos come up, so with regards to the Lotto the best bet would be to pick a combo that has never been drawn I guess. But which one. To wittle it down I would say you could discount all numbers like 1,2,3,4,5,6 etc. Look at the most common sections. Everything is beatable with the right bank roll and knowledge.

• Lottery-Guy.com

No, no and er, no. ðŸ™‚

You’re making the same classic mistake most lottery system sellers rely on to peddle their junk.

1. Combinations that have been drawn before are NOT less likely to appear again just because they have been drawn. Not even slightly. (Still not convinced? What about the same numbers two weeks in a row? Totally impossible, right? See Repeat Lottery Numbers In Bulgaria!)

2. And why would any particular combination be less likely to get drawn just because we see a nice sequence of numbers? What is it about printing the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 on the balls that could possibly make them less likely to be drawn together? They’re just ping pong balls bouncing around in a big drum ðŸ™‚

• Dan

Keep playing the same numbers, if they don’t come in, then god don’t want you to win.

• Derek

Pick 6 random numbers and make sure they add up to at least 177 or greater, because most people pick numbers based on birthdays etc

• Shelia

Why do your lottery numbers have to add up to 177 or greater?

• Richard

The “177 or greater” forces you to spread it out more, although I think that number is a bit high (I would say 145+ myself). People tend to pick “easily remembered” numbers like birthdays, but that eliminates half the numbers available (and therefore any winning combination that includes those numbers).

• Katherine Marsh

Dear Lottery Guy,

I have been buying quick picks for the last three months for the California Super Lotto Plus Game. None of the tickets have been winners. Should I continue to buy quick picks or start choosing my own numbers.

Thanks ðŸ™‚

• James Kollie

Hi Lottery adviser, I had been playing the lottery, even though I had won some money on my own numbers like the pick 4 lottery in Philadelphia, but since then I can’t win again. I play the same numbers for seven months, and no win for me. Can I know what to do next?

• Playing the same numbers doesn’t actually increase your chances of winning James. Think of it like rolling a dice – you can stick to the same number or change every roll, there are still 6 sides on the dice whichever you choose.

• Bub

Keep playing your own set, and a quick pick along with it = cover both sides.

• Grace Osabu-kle

Is it wise to play lotto numbers that have occurred as winning numbers in previous draw? Is it possible that a winning number will ever occur again? In your lifetime.

• Hmm, you didn’t read the article above before asking the question now did you ;-).

In pure maths terms, past results have exactly the same chance as any other result of being drawn again.

When you roll a dice and get a 6, your chances of getting 6 again in future are still 1-in-6. They haven’t changed.

• Romulo Patricio

Yes, some of the numbers that won in the previous draw may come up again. But, since lotto is random by nature, you may use one or two numbers of the previous draw and hope for the best. I play Philippine lotto 6/42 and I just won 2 3#s and 1 4-number prizes using a wheeling system of 13 #s, with a win guarantee that if you pick 3#s out of the 6 winning numbers, you will win at least a minimum of 3-number prize. This time I picked 4 numbers giving me above prizes.

• Robert Mathison

I just hit 5 of 6 in the Florida Lotto. I’ve been playing the same 5 sets of numbers every drawing for four months. Question is should I retire the winning set, or is there even a slim chance that set could win again?

• Joe Dreaver

Who picks the lottery numbers? And how do we know that they don’t have all the numbers people picked on their tickets right in front of them while they are picking the winning numbers ? I think it’s fair that the winning numbers got picked on national TV just so we know they’re random picked.

• It depends which game it is. Some are picked using a mechanical draw machine, others use a computer. None are picked manually by humans :-). There is a lot of security around numbers being selected, including auditors to ensure things are done fairly.

• Bruce Berentsen

Repeated Winning Powerball Lottery Numbers. To date, one pair of winning Powerball lottery tickets match all 6 numbers (Jackpot).

Drawing Date: 04/03/1993
15, 22, 24, 32, 39, Powerball: 18

Drawing Date: 12/27/2000
15, 22, 24, 32, 39, Powerball: 18

• Bruce Berentsen

To date, one pair of winning Powerball Lottery tickets match the first 5 of 6 numbers (2nd Prize).

Drawing Date: 02/08/2003
2, 13, 20, 21, 23, Powerball: 35

Drawing Date: 01/09/2008
2, 13, 20, 21, 23, Powerball: 24

• Bruce Berentsen

And three pairs of winning Powerball Lottery tickets repeat 4 of the first 5 numbers plus the Powerball (3rd Prize).

Drawing Date: 05/19/1993
12, 24, 31, 35, 38, Powerball: 8

Drawing Date: 09/28/2002
12, 22, 24, 31, 35, Powerball: 8

Drawing Date: 09/01/1993
1, 11, 23, 26, 34, Powerball: 21

Drawing Date: 03/15/1995
11, 23, 26, 34, 42, Powerball: 21

Drawing Date: 06/30/2012
7, 15, 20, 41, 44, Powerball: 22

Drawing Date: 09/24/2016
7, 15, 20, 29, 41, Powerball: 22

• Bruce Berentsen

Repeated Winning Mega Millions Lottery Numbers.

To date, no pair of winning Mega Millions Lottery tickets match the first 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball (Jackpot).

To date, no pair of winning Mega Millions Lottery tickets match the first 5 numbers (2nd Prize).

To date, two pairs of winning Mega Millions Lottery tickets match 4 of the first 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball (3rd Prize):-

Drawing Date: 09/05/1997
14, 15, 25, 26, 42, Mega Ball: 3

Drawing Date: 08/31/2004
14, 15, 25, 42, 44, Mega Ball: 3

Drawing Date: 07/24/2001
5, 6, 10, 13, 20, Mega Ball: 15

Drawing Date: 12/7/2001
5. 6, 13, 20, 46, Mega Ball: 15

• Tameshia Brown

Wow… this is a lot! Is there any significance to the drawings in relation to the dates? Just checking for insight as I get headaches trying to figure it out! Do you have an idea of what date to look at next?