Was she lucky or smart?
Joan R. Ginther, a 63-year-old woman from Texas, has won multiple million dollar payouts four times over two decades. First, she won $5.4 million, then a decade later, $2 million, then two years later $3 million and in the spring of 2008, she won $10 million.
The odds of this winning streak have been calculated at one in eighteen septillion. If this were 'luck,' it could only happen once every quadrillion years.
Amazing, right? Not so fast.
According to Harper's reporter Nathanial Rich, who recently wrote an article about the lotto winner, Ms. Ginther is a former math professor with a PhD from Stanford University specializing in statistics.
A professor at the Institute for the Study of Gambling & Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, told Mr. Rich: 'When something this unlikely happens in a casino, you arrest ‘em first and ask questions later.'
Although Ms. Ginther now lives in Las Vegas, she won all four of her lotteries in Texas.
Three of her wins, all in two-year intervals, were by scratch-off tickets bought at the same mini mart in the town of Bishop.
In his article, Mr. Rich speculates how Ms. Ginther could have gamed the system; she may have figured out the algorithm that determines where a winner is placed in each run of scratch-off tickets.
He believes that after Ms. Ginther figured out the algorithm, it wouldn’t be too difficult to then determine where the tickets would be shipped, as the shipping schedule is apparently fixed, and there were a few sources that she could have found it out from.
According to Forbes, the residents of Bishop, Texas, seem to believe God was behind it all.
The Texas Lottery Commission told Mr. Rich that Ms. Ginther must have been 'born under a lucky star', and that they don’t suspect foul play.