Peggy Dodson’s daily habit of buying Pennsylvania Lottery tickets from the same store has paid off big twice, most recently a $1 million win in the Max-A-Million scratch-off game.
Two years ago, the 72-year-old Lancaster County resident stopped at Peterson’s Grocery Outlet in Peach Bottom to purchase a Scratch-Off called Family Feud, which paid out $100,000.
Even with two big wins, she has no plans to stop playing.
Still playing the lottery
“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. But I love to play the lottery,” she told the Lancaster Online news site after winning on May 23, just before her husband’s birthday.
“I liked that ticket because of the color purple, so it was the first one (on the roll) and it was the million-dollar winner!” Dodson told lottery officials.
“I cried, I couldn’t help it. I just thank God. We’re going to pay our mortgage off, we’ll pay our truck off, and we’ll go to the Grand Canyon and Alaska!”
The odds of winning $1 million in Max-A-Million are 1 in 1,320,000, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Beating long odds of the Lottery
Still, something more than odds might explain her wins.
Dodson’s winning way previously sounds as if that could explain her second big win. But statistically, that’s just not the case, a Harvard University professor cautioned.
“If someone already wins the lottery, then the chance that the person wins the lottery a second time will be exactly the same as the probability they win the lottery if they had not previously won the lottery before,” statistics professor Dr. Mark Glickman told CNBC Make It.
“In other words, having previously won the lottery does not improve or make less likely the chance of winning the lottery in the future.”
Dodson has followed the advice of most financial experts and took the lump sum payout, rather than taking multi-year annuity payments.
Like all lottery wins above $5,000, Dodson faces a minimum federal tax hit of 24% and Pennsylvania state taxes of roughly 3%.
More tickets mean slightly better odds
Because each game is independent, the only way to improve odds is by buying more tickets for each game. That’s still a huge longshot, Professor Lew Lefton, a faculty member at Georgia Tech’s School of Mathematics, explained to CNBC.
Dodson routinely bought multiple tickets. Lefton said investing more money in a higher number of tickets might not be worth the expense.
“My advice is don’t play the lottery and expect to win,” Lefton added. “You should only be willing to spend what you can afford to lose,” advice he offers on all gambling.
Karma of kindness?
Good karma may be a better explanation – even if statistics don’t take the intent of deeds into account.
While scratching off tickets at Peterson’s convenience store Dodson noticed a customer without enough money to pay for a soda, according to LancasterOnline.
Dodson paid a cashier the difference and went back to scratching –minutes before she won $1 million.