What’s luck got to do with it? Ireland’s ‘luckiest’ town put to the test

A NEWSAGENT in Skibbereen that sold five of the 10 Jackpot-winning Lotto tickets bought in the Co Cork town has dismissed a scientific study that found luck had nothing to do with it.

A British expert on the psychology of luck found that, although Lotto tickets bought in Skibbereen were slightly more successful than those bought in Dublin, the difference was very small and not statistically significant.

“Scientists can look at a situation any way they like. I think it is down to luck that a shop has five jackpots,” said Pierce Hickey Jnr, manager of Pierce Hickey’s Newsagents.

“And if you compare Skibbereen’s jackpot wins with Dublin’s, you will find that, per head of population, we are a very lucky town,” he said.

He said Skibbereen even had the distinction of selling the ticket that won the biggest ever Lotto Jackpot. In May 1997, a local farmer won €7.8 million after buying his ticket in Crowley’s Newsagent. The same shop has enjoyed three Lotto jackpot wins.

This week, as part of the BA Festival of Science held by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Prof Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire, put Skibbereen’s Lotto luck to the test. He purchased 50 lottery tickets in Skibbereen and a further 50 in the ‘control’ city of Dublin. All of the numbers for the tickets were randomly selected in each location.

When Wednesday night’s Lotto draw for a jackpot of €5m was not won, Prof Wiseman checked the numbers drawn against his 100 tickets. He found that the tickets purchased in Skibbereen resulted in an average 1.06 matched numbers while the tickets bought in Dublin resulted in an average of one matched number per ticket. None of the tickets resulted in a cash win.

Prof Wiseman concluded that the outcome of the experiment was consistent with probability theory.

“A lottery draw is completely random and thus, tickets bought in one place should be no more successful than those purchased elsewhere,” he said.

Luck had an awful lot to do with Dolores McNamara from Limerick winning the record EuroMillions jackpot of more than €115m on July 29 last. There will be plenty of people hoping lightening does strike twice in the same country today when the jackpot will have rolled over to an estimated €65m. If it is won, it will be the second biggest pay out in the history of the EuroMillions game.

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