Local media reported that it was the highest number of people to have ever won the Grand Lotto’s top prize.
Sparking more controversy was the fact that the winning combination for the PHP 236m pesos ($4m) jackpot was a series of numbers that were all divisible by nine. Philippines Senate minority leader Koko Pimentel has since called for an inquiry into the suspicious results.
“These lotto games are authorised by the Republic of the Philippines. Therefore, we need to maintain and protect the integrity of these gambling games,” said Pimentel.
Grand Lotto participants select six numbers from one to 55, with all six of a player’s numbers needing to match those drawn by the lottery’s operator for a player to win the jackpot.
But Melquiades Robles, General Manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), said there were no irregularities with the results, explaining that many people in the country often bet on number sequences.
“Many have held onto their numbers. It’s not only good to be loyal to your wives and husbands, it’s also good to be loyal to your numbers,” said Robles.
As quoted by BBC News, University of California, Los Angeles maths professor Terence Tao offered his perspective on the results, saying a pattern like this being a winning series of numbers is rare “for any single lottery”.
He continued: “But there are hundreds of lotteries every day around the world, and statistically it would not be surprising that every few decades, one of these lotteries would exhibit an unusual pattern.
“It’s similar to how in any given hand of poker it would be unlikely to draw a straight flush, but if one looks at hundreds of thousands of hands at once then it actually becomes quite likely that a straight flush would be drawn.”