There is a minor news item today about a curious result in the UK National Lottery. Five people who each chose the six correct numbers shared £4.8 million, getting £968,000 each, but the single "runner-up", who matched five of the six main balls plus the bonus ball, won nearly £1.5 million - half as much again as the winners!
This is very unusual: it required several people to pick the same six winning numbers while only a single person chose any of the six possible "runner-up" combinations. Apparently the winning numbers were 15, 30, 36, 39, 41 and 49 and the bonus number was 2.
I am curious about the distribution of the prizes. There are six "runner-up" combinations - any five of the six main balls plus the bonus ball - while only one winning selection, so I would have expected that the pot for the winner would be six times that for the runner-up. Instead it's just over three times. That makes this unexpected result rather more likely than if the relative size of the pots had been proportional to the odds.
Of course, this is good publicity for the lottery (and, as the spokesman says, good news for six people who've won sizeable sums of money).