Ever notice that there are things that sound outlandish that may never happen to you, but somehow you seem to know of someone, or know someone who it really did happen to? This is what the Lottery Commissions rely on to get you to buy their products.
Have you been hit by lightning? My guess would be you haven’t but you most likely know someone (or of someone) who has, but does that make you not go out in a lightning storm, or wear rubber soled shoes all the time? Not likely (if you do my apologies, I am using this simply as an example). Being hit by lightning in this instance is a relatively rare event (depending on where you live and your habits during storms and such).
Have you been bitten by a shark? Living in Ottawa, it isn’t likely for me to know anyone who has, but I do know of someone who was nipped by a tiger shark, and yes that does make me nervous about swimming in the ocean. This simple incident causes an irrational fear of the ocean in me, for a occurance which is just not that likely, but it is enforced by my knowing of someone who was nipped by a shark.
Do you know anyone who has “Won the Big One” with the lottery? You do most likely know someone directly or indirectly who won a considerable amount of money in a lottery (I worked with a group of folks who won the really big one once (that was then spread between 18 folks)). The number of lottery tickets sold would drop considerably if no one ever heard of anyone who won (although it doesn’t seem to stop publishers clearing house from bugging me). The Lottery Commission spends a considerable amount of money to advertise its winners, but they also rely on word of mouth advertising too.
The arithmetic (or odds) of you knowing of someone who won the big one is not as long as you think (I had a stats prof explain it to me, but I don’t remember the exact equation, so I’ll leave the specifics out of it), but it still does not increase your odds of winning with a single (or group) of tickets, all it does is give you an inflated view of your chances of winning.
Just because I won the lottery (as an example), the chances of you winning are no better (and no worse), remember the chances in a pick 7 lottery that the series 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 is the same as any other sequence of 7 (but if that ever showed up as the “lucky numbers” the winnings might be quite low, because of splitting it among thousands of ticket buyers).
Lottery tickets want you to act on your “hunches”, and buy their products, don’t be fooled, your chances are the same.