20 players share the jackpot after consecutive numbers are drawn
By Kate Northrop
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — An unusually perfect series of sequential numbers that came up in South Africa's most recent PowerBall drawing has led to accusations of fraud, while others jumped in to defend the integrity of a game based on pure luck and chance.
The winning numbers drawn on Tuesday, Dec. 1 were all consecutive numbers, including the PowerBall itself – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and PowerBall 10.
20 people purchased a ticket with the numbers and split the jackpot evenly, earning each winner 5.7 million rand (US$370,000). 79 players matched the first five consecutive numbers but missed the PowerBall, which meant that each of them took home 6,283 rand (US$414).
(Note: PowerBall in South Africa is a completely different game than the multi-state lottery game Powerball that is drawn in the United States.)
It is surprising to see such a unique sequence appear in lottery drawings, but Lottery organizers assured the public that the sequence of numbers is just as likely to come up as any other. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 42,375,200, meaning that the unusual numbers in Tuesday's drawing are just one of over 42 million possible combinations that can be drawn from the set of 50 main numbers and 20 PowerBall numbers.
While it is uncommon for more than two winners to share the jackpot, the Lottery suggested that there were so many winners in the drawing since this particular combination is a popular one.
"Congratulations to tonight's 20 winners of the PowerBall draw," Ithuba, the operator of the South Africa Lottery tweeted on Tuesday. "These numbers may be unexpected, but we see many players opt to play these sequences."
However, many lottery players are either unconvinced or in disbelief at the strange string of numbers and voiced their thoughts on social media.
"So 20 people all selected 5,6,7,8,9,10 in the powerball draw last night?! #somethingfishy," Twitter user rocco8403 posted.
"I always suspected that lotto is rigged," a Twitter user under the name David Chirova said. "Today, proof has been given to us. These people are playing us week in, week out... This is a cartel that decided to give themselves Xmas bonuses."
Currently, the identities of all 20 jackpot winners are unknown. The South Africa Lottery allows players to remain anonymous, although Ithuba will retain confidential records of all winners of 50,000 rand (US$ 3,298) and more.
According to the Lottery, numbers in the PowerBall drawings are selected using a random number generator (RNG) in the presence of an independent auditor, but traditional ball drawings will be used only in the event that the RNG is not operational.
The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) of South Africa confirmed that it would be investigating the drawing and acknowledged that the result was unprecedented.
Ndivhuho Mafela, a spokesman for the NLC, said that the committee is currently in the process of reviewing the case, "and if there is anything that went wrong, we will declare that."
In the United States, computerized drawings are a foundational cause of the biggest lottery scandal in the lottery industry's history, and similar instances of suspicious drawings continue to be investigated.
The criminal mastermind behind the scandal has stated that to this day computerized lottery drawings remain fatally flawed.