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How to win the lottery: We reveal the least picked numbers – and if tickets bought online are more likely hit the  jackpot

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Households across the UK have been obsessed with the National Lottery draw for 30 years, hoping their lucky numbers come out top on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Some three in five adults play Lottery games regularly and the National Lottery has made more than 7,200 people millionaires since it launched in 1994.

Almost every family will have their own beliefs surrounding the game, whether it’s that playing rarely-drawn numbers will boost your chances of hitting the jackpot or that you’re more likely to be hit by lightning than win.

But is there substance to these beliefs — or are they simply myths? 

Money Mail investigates.

National obsession: Some three in five adults play Lottery games regularly and the National Lottery has made more than 7,200 people millionaires since it launched in 1994

Some regions are luckier than others

The Midlands is one of the luckiest places in the UK based on its number of Lottery millionaires.

The National Lottery made 934 millionaires in the region from its launch in November 1994 to March 2023. 

Yet only 174 people in Northern Ireland have won a prize of £1 million or more, and just 389 people in Wales.

The regional differences are just as stark when it comes to winners of £50,000 or more — the prize value at which the National Lottery begins to introduce winners to one of its Winners’ Advisers, who guide players through newfound wealth.

Some 6,377 people in the Midlands have won at least £50,000 compared with 5,859 in the South-East of England. Yet this plummets to just 916 people in Northern Ireland and 2,235 in Wales.

So should would-be winners move to one of these lucky areas? Not quite.

A National Lottery spokesman says: ‘Certain areas have more National Lottery millionaires, but there are more people in London than the North-East, for example, so after 30 years of millionaire making you’d expect it.

‘Remember, only around 5 per cent of big winners share their news, so your perception of where the winners are may be based on just the winners spraying champagne. There are big winners in every corner of the country.’

Tickets bought from shops are better

Many players recall when tickets could only be bought at a local shop or the Post Office.

But, in 2003, the National Lottery started to offer online entry to its draws. Online tickets can be bought on the National Lottery website for £2 from 6am to 11pm and players can pick their numbers or enter into a Lucky Dip, which will randomly generate numbers. Players can also set up a Direct Debit to enter on a rolling basis.

Lucky chance: Some players swear that buying a ticket the old-fashioned way in a shop improves your chances

Lucky chance: Some players swear that buying a ticket the old-fashioned way in a shop improves your chances 

Some players swear that buying a ticket the old-fashioned way improves your chances. 

But a Lottery spokesman explains you won’t have a better chance of winning if you buy tickets from a retailer and says the method by which a player buys the ticket has no impact on the draw.

‘Anybody has a chance of winning — the one essential is you have a ticket. Research has shown it is a 50:50 split for big winners between retail and online tickets.’

Rare numbers boost chances

Some lottery sleuths may rake through numbers that have been drawn least to boost their chances of winning a prize with ‘rare’ numbers.

Players may believe these numbers have a greater chance of being drawn soon. The numbers 23, 30 and 57 are the least drawn this year, as they have only been drawn twice as a main or bonus ball.

In reality, this will do nothing to bolster the odds of winning as each draw is an independent event. 

The National Lottery says: ‘In theory the same numbers could come up in every single draw repeatedly. That is just as statistically probable as any other set of six numbers appearing.’

The same set of numbers — 4, 15, 23, 24, 35 and 42 — were drawn in two consecutive rounds of the Bulgarian Lottery in 2009. 

There was a one in more than four million chance of it happening, but officials ruled it a coincidence.

Fixed picks raise your luck

Many superstitious players have a fixed set of numbers that they use for every draw. Perhaps they are based on children’s birthdays, lucky numbers or memorable dates.

But playing a fixed set of numbers every draw will not increase your odds of winning.

‘The numbers you choose statistically play no role,’ the Lottery spokesman says. ‘However, there are plenty of big winners who will point to lucky numbers that have helped them win big.’

Superstition: Paying the same fixed set of numbers every draw will not increase your odds of winning

Superstition: Paying the same fixed set of numbers every draw will not increase your odds of winning

A small prize leads to big win

One anonymous Lottery winner told Money Mail he won a small prize of £1,500 just after the Lottery draws began. 

He visited his local Post Office to claim the money and the cashier told him people who win a small amount tend to win again.

Almost two decades passed, but then the same lucky player won just under £2.2 million.

Winners of a few thousand pounds may be jumping with joy that a future jackpot win is on the cards. Unfortunately, this idea is a myth. The Lottery spokesman says previous wins have no role in a player’s future chances of winning the Lottery.

Lightning strike is more likely

Every Lottery player knows a cynic who says they are more likely to be struck by lightning than win the jackpot.

But the National Lottery says these odds are not comparable.

The odds of being struck by lightning are typically based on previous instances of strikes, whereas the odds of matching all six numbers are not based on previous draws.

The odds of being struck by lightning are one in 1.127 million, based on figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

A Lottery spokesman says: ‘If you buy one line of six numbers for the next Lotto draw you have a one in 45 million chance of hitting the jackpot – that’s because there are just over 45 million combinations of six numbers between one and 59.

‘To match three numbers and win £30 it is one in 96. But if you don’t have a ticket you have no chance.’

Pot luck: The National Lottery says the odds of winning the top prize are always the same — no matter how big the jackpot or how many players enter

Pot luck: The National Lottery says the odds of winning the top prize are always the same — no matter how big the jackpot or how many players enter

Always play on Wednesday

The Lottery launched with a Saturday Lotto draw and introduced a Wednesday draw in 1997.

More people buy a ticket for the Saturday draw, but players aren’t more likely to win on a Wednesday than a Saturday.

A spokesman for the Lottery insists the odds of winning the jackpot are the same for both draws. 

‘The odds of winning the jackpot in any Lotto draw are the same because they are the odds of matching six numbers from the 59 balls. 

On Saturday June 8, one ticket did match six and that one in 45 million chance banked the ticket-holder £11.4 million.’

Lower jackpot improves odds

When there’s a big jackpot on offer, such as the £15 million which was up for grabs in the middle of May, players may rush to enter in the hopes of getting a dream ticket.

Lotto fans may think it is a tactical move to enter a draw with a lower prize jackpot as fewer people may enter. 

But the National Lottery says the odds of winning the top prize are always the same — no matter how big the jackpot or how many players enter.

Players have the exact same odds of matching their numbers for a £100 million jackpot or a £1 million jackpot.

‘This is because the odds of matching all six numbers on your ticket with the winning numbers remain the same in each draw and does not change, even if more people enter when there’s a bigger prize on offer.

But if a larger prize fund attracts more players, winners may have to share their jackpot with more people, as there’s a slightly higher chance they have picked the same number set as someone else.

l.evans@dailymail.co.uk

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