It’s a piece of information we’d all like to know on some level. The idea of knowing exactly what to do to win the jackpot is the sort of thing you might wish for if ever you found a magic lamp. But if it sounds preposterous, there’s one man who says that’s precisely what he did. He’s a geological statistician from Ontario and he says he’s got the secret to the big bucks. What makes him different from all the others? He’s not selling it, he’s not sharing it, and in fact he’s gone to those that print the tickets with the intention of having the game shut down because it has been compromised. But it has been figured out.
But if that sounds strange, before this story no one thought it was actually possible to figure out the code to win the lottery. And now that one person has done it, a few questions are being raised about another mathematician who might have cracked the code. In July we brought you the story of Joan Ginther who has won big in the lottery enough times that the chance of a repeat are over one in a septilion. And after that she more or less vanished from the public eye very purposefully. Perhaps Ginther is just the luckiest woman alive and wants to be left alone. But now that someone in Canada has cracked a Canadian lottery game, is it possible that someone else did the same in Texas with a big return? Even if Ginther had somehow cracked the code, it would have taken a great deal of skill, luck, and some determination, right? Srivastava says he did it in only a few hours with a bit of mathematical know-how a few lotto tickets, and some research. It would be impossible to prove because no one would have the knowledge she does. Not even the ones who coded it in the first place. Or would they?
And here’s where it gets weird. A recent article from Wired outlined the struggle Mohan Srivastava, the man who cracked the lottery code had to undergo to convince lottery officials something strange was going on. And for good reason. A lottery game would cost millions to change and would call for an even more strict coding process. If a few lucky individuals were going around snapping up the winning tickets, the game would lose a lot of its appeal for the rest of the players. Millions of dollars would stand to be lost and the games would halt.
Instead, it is possible to see how if one person were to crack the code and make just enough money that the lottery could reasonably turn a blind eye to it, and everyone would win. Is it possible this is the reason no one has cracked the code? Is it possible all those who have found a way to break the game are actually millionaires bound to secrecy by their own fortune? Maybe the real interest in this story isn’t the fact that someone broke the code, but that they came forward with the information rather than benefiting from it. And that’s honesty you can take to the bank.