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10 April 2014

Is there a secret to these lottery winner success?

Has someone finally cracked the lottery code?

How to win the lottery…more than once!

Winning the lottery takes an unbelievable amount of luck. With jackpots worth millions or even hundreds of millions of pounds the odds are slim although players have a much better shot at the smaller prizes. However it may surprise you to learn that there are a few people who have managed to win the lottery, not once but multiple times. The odds against winning the lottery multiple times seem unsurmountable yet this has not happened once, but several times, around the world. In fact, the past few months have seen a surge in multiple lotto winners. It is easy to put this down as simply being an extraordinary coincidence, but if we look back at lotto history we find several stories of winners who struck it big - more than once.

Has someone finally cracked the lottery code?

The lotto hat trick

Just recently something extraordinary happened to a US couple that made international news, dubbing them “the luckiest couple in the world”. The reason for this epithet? Calvin and Zatera Spencer from Portsmouth, Virginia, didn’t settle for less than a lotto hat-trick.

Their first win came on March 12, 2014 when the lucky pair took home $1 million on Powerball. Most people might be happy enjoying being millionaires but the Spencers kept on going. On March 26 the dynamic lotto duo scored again, taking home another $50,000. This would qualify them as a pretty lucky couple indeed. But even that wasn’t enough for the lottery lovers. The very next day they hit a third massive pay out – this time $681,000 on scratch cards.

But the couple doesn’t seem fazed by winning big three times in one month. When collecting his prize, Mr. Spencer had a simple message to the public: “We’re not done yet.”

March madness

In another instance of March madness a Canadian man won big on the Lotto 6/49 for the second time in his life, earning him $1 million. Although his name may suggest otherwise, Robert McPhail has had nothing but success playing the lotto. His first win was in 1992 when he was a part of a lotto syndicate which banked $571,157.

When he took home his second win, this time for £1 million, McPhail displayed the mind-set of a lotto champion, telling the media that “I always thought I would win again. I just didn’t know when. My family members keep rubbing me for good luck.”

Now the Canadian is planning a trip to the UK. Perhaps his luck will rub off on you?

The mysterious lady luck

Some multiple winners, however, seem to have more than luck on their side. American Joan R. Ginther, a woman in her sixties from Texas, won big on the lottery four times. Her story first made headlines, crowning her “The Luckiest Woman in the World”.

But facts soon emerged that made some claim more than luck might have been at play. You see, Ginther is a former math professor with a statistics degree from Stanford University. Was this merely a coincidence?

Ginther doesn’t settle for small beer. Her first win came in 1993 when she claimed $5.4 million. Ten years later she won another $2 million. Two years after that she grabbed hold of another three. The big one came in 2010 when she finally chased down a jackpot worth $10 million.

Some of the wins came off scratch cards bought at the same minimarket. After her fourth win, lotto players across the world were scratching their heads.

A professor at the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada didn’t seem as enthused as some.

“When something this unlikely happens in a casino, you arrest them first and ask questions later,” the professor told a journalist investigating Ginther’s wins.

But while some have called her wins into question, lottery officials give credit to the man upstairs. An official from the Texas Lottery Commission told a journalist working on the story that Ms Ginter was “born under a lucky star.”

Ginther now resides in Las Vegas. Whether or not she was just one lucky professor, played some lucky numbers or just beat the system, we’ll never know. The lucky lady has chosen to keep silent refuses interviews with media. Is she done winning or will we see more lotto wins from this statistics enthusiast?

More lucky winners

Keep your eyes open for more stories about multiple lotto winners. There have been several.

- The American self-proclaimed lotto expert, Richard Lustig, have won seven big lottery wins. He claims that “luck has nothing to do with it.” He is adheres to the theory of hot and cold numbers, never playing on those that have recently just come up in a draw. In fact, he has developed a highly complicated system which he claims helps him to maximise his odds of winning the lottery.

- In 2012, Tord Oksnes, 19, won the Norwegian lottery for the first time. What made his £1.3 million windfall special, however, was that he was the third in his family to score big on the lotto. Before that his sister had won £880,000. Their father started the Oksnes lotto legacy with a £900,000 win. Tord even admitted to having a “guilty conscience about winning so much money”!

Are these lottery wins just incredible luck or did these multiple lottery winners cotton on to something that the rest of us haven’t? Find out now by betting on the results of this week's EuroMillions! 


One of the parts of my job which I enjoy the most is getting the chance to explore the nuances of different international lottery markets. In my articles I try to look not only how lottos and lotto players around the world differ from one another but also uncover the underlying reasons for the contrast.

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