Lucky Her

This doesn’t actually seem mathematically possible but apparently eccentric academic Joan Ginther of Las Vegas, Nev. won $10 million last month playing the lottery in the Texas. That’s lucky. But that’s not all. According to an Associated Press article article in the Washington Times:

It was the fourth winning ticket in Texas for the 63-year-old former college professor since 1993, when Ms. Ginther split an $11 million jackpot….

In 2008 Ginther turned in a winning lottery ticket to claim $3 million. In 2006 she won $1 million.

The argument people often make against lotteries is that winning is so rare. The odds of winning Mega Millions, for instance, are one in 135,145,920.

According to two math professors at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the odds of Ginther winning that much so often are even slimmer. If the Nevada woman only purchased those four lottery tickets in her lifetime the odds of her winning the way she did would be one in 18 septillion (that’s 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). She and her elderly father apparently played the lottery regularly. But maybe Ginther knows better. She’s the one who taught math.

Ginther earned a PhD from Stanford University in 1976 and taught mathematics at several colleges in California. She is now retired.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer