Powerball $200m jackpot: Woman notices 'freaky coincidence' on tickets

After buying QuickPick tickets days apart, the Queensland woman says she 'wouldn't have bothered' after noticing their unlikely similarity.

With millions of Australians holding their collective breath ahead of Thursday’s record $200 million Powerball draw, one woman has spotted a "coincidental" detail on her tickets from last week which left her questioning the odds of her bad luck.

Ainslie Vaka purchased two tickets from the same newsagency, six days apart, ahead of last Thursday's lottery game. While the Lott soon announced there were no division one winners, the Queensland resident was quick to check her tickets after the balls were drawn – and that's when she noticed an eerie similarity.

She found four of the seven numbers matched on both tickets – numbers 20, 29, 32 and 33. That was despite buying them days apart and having the numbers randomly generated by the Lott's system, known as a QuickPick. Sadly for Ainslie, not one of the matching numbers was ultimately drawn.

"I just thought it was a freaky coincidence. I wondered if there was a glitch in the software, but no one else seemed to have had it happen," she told Yahoo News Australia. "I felt like I should get a prize for such a coincidence!"

The Powerball tickets placed side-by-side showing 20, 29, 32 and 33 had been selected for both.
Powerball player Ainslie Vaka had four matching numbers on her QuickPick tickets for last week's draw despite not selecting them herself. Source: The Lott and Ainslie Vaka

Matching numbers unusual but not rare, statistician says

The balls inside the main barrel are numbered from one to 35 and although it is "unusual" to have four matching numbers across two tickets, situations like this will occur – especially with so many entries across the country.

"I don’t think it's as rare as what she thinks," Professor of Statistics John Croucher from Macquarie University told Yahoo News. "When you're looking at so many entries, unusual stuff is going to happen."

The chances of becoming a division one winner in Powerball are one in 134,490,400. So compared to those ridiculous odds, this is a cakewalk. "It would be really hard to work out what the odds are… it would be lengthy and would need to use a simulation of some kind," Croucher admitted.

Nonetheless it spurred Ainslie to ask others online if they had ever noticed a similar thing. "I wouldn't have bothered buying a second ticket if I knew I would get almost the same numbers," she lamented.

The Lott matching numbers a 'coincidence'

Anna Hobdell from the Lott said it was "certainly a coincidence" that Ainslie had four matching numbers on her tickets which were randomly selected, but confirmed it does "happen now and then".

"While it's unusual that a QuickPick would generate similar numbers ... for the same customer, it's not impossible," she told Yahoo News. "We've even had customers hold two tickets in the same draw that have won division one before."

As for Ainslie, she has bought more tickets ahead of this Thursday's $200 Powerball draw — vying for the largest jackpot in our history. But she admits to not feeling too hopeful about her chances. "I think I may have used up my luck getting those tickets!" she joked.

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