Elusive Mathematician Wins Lottery Fourth Time

Joan Ginther is a woman who has beat the odds several times and still come back swinging for more money time and again.  If there is one person on Earth who you want to split the cost of a lottery ticket with it’s Joan.  To date she has won the lottery in major ways four times.  And the mathematician is not sharing the secrets of her method.  When one looks at the statistical impossibility of her winning four major jackpots the story becomes even more amazing.

There are an estimated one septillion (one times ten to the power of 24) grains of sand on the Earth.  If two astronauts were orbiting the planet and one bet the other they could select a single grain of sand correctly on all of the Earth’s surface on the first try, and then landed back on Earth and after months of digging on a random spot selected the exact grain it would be only one eighteenth as likely as Joan Ginther winning the jackpots in the way she did.  She has been declared the luckiest woman in the whole world and with good reason.  A single septillion is like a one with twenty four zeros following it.  This is more than just a story of incredible luck.  At the level Ginther has been playing the game, there almost would have to be a sort of deus ex machina allowing her to continue winning.  And as a mathematician she almost certainly has a better idea of how unlikely her luck is in comparison to most other people.

And the Texas Lottery commission certainly noticed how unlikely this was as well.  For the same person to win the lottery four times.  The commission investigated the incident and determined to their satisfaction that there was no way she could have cheated the system.  Reportedly not only is Ginther one of the world’s luckiest lottery winners, she’s also one of the most secretive.

So at what point does it no longer become merely a matter of chance and move into the realm of possible magical influence?  What little information is public of Ginther indicates that she was never involved in any clandestine occult organizations, and has been charitable toward her old friends in the town of 3,300 where she used to live.  There is an old adage that says the Lottery is a tax for people who are bad at math, but it certainly has been good to Ginther who is now living large and wishes only to be left alone from a public that wishes to know her secret.

The only clue to this mystery that seems to jump out is that Ginther did always purchase her lottery tickets in Texas and in fact won her last two at the same store in Bishop Texas, the last and most recent win coming as she was only visiting the town.  Is this somehow related to her windfall?  The town of Bishop Texas has only 3,300 residents.  The chance of so many wins falling to anyone in the town seems a matter of statistical significance.