The national lottery numbers: what have we learned after 20 years?

You are almost as likely to have been married to Katie Price as you are to win the jackpot, 20 is the least drawn number and 10,000 people are picking 1,2,3,4,5,6 every single week

Winners of the national lottery from the last 20 years. Photograph: The National Lottery/Camelot/PA

Winners of the national lottery from the last 20 years. Photograph: The National Lottery/Camelot/PA

Last modified on Sat 25 Nov 2017 08.47 GMT

The first national lottery draw was on 19 November 1994. Here are the stats behind the numbers of the first 20 years.

**13,983,816**

There are 13,983,816 different ways to select six balls out of 49, which is why the odds of winning the lottery are said to be “one in 14m”. That is less likely than a fair coin landing on heads 23 times in a row (1 in 8.4m), and slightly more likely than a randomly selected person in England having been married to Katie Price (1 in 17.7m).

**20**

The lottery is 20 years old, and 20 is also the number that has appeared the fewest times. It has only been pulled out of the barrel 204 times, while the most common number 23 has come up 266 times. But this is exactly the variation we’d expect from random draws. If all numbers came up exactly as frequently, that would be a sign of foul play.

**£720,152**

This is the smallest jackpot yet and it occurred quite recently, on 13 August 2014. It’s a massive drop from the biggest ever jackpot, on 6 January 1996 of £42,008,610. Even more disappointing, the smallest ever jackpot was won by two people, so they had to split the pot and take home a “mere” £360,076 each.

**133**

The most people to win the same jackpot was 133 – they all picked the numbers 7, 17, 23, 32, 38 and 42 on 14 January 1995. It’s hard to imagine the emotional rollercoaster of thinking you have won the £16,293,830 jackpot only to end up with 1/133 of that total: £122,510.

Katie Price. Photograph: Eamonn McCormack/WireImage

**55.5p**

For every £1 you spend on national lottery games, you will win just over 55p on average. You can work this out from the performance reports of the Camelot Group, which runs the national lottery. In the first half of this financial year it sold £3.47bn worth of tickets and handed out £1.93bn in prizes. Of the remaining money, £868m went to good causes and the rest to things such as government duty, retailers’ commissions and running costs.

**£2,078**

For the first 1,856 draws, it only cost £1 per entry and for the 111 draws since 5 October 2013 it has been £2 per ticket. So playing every week since its inception would have cost you a total of £2,078. But using the average winnings from above, that means you will have won around £1,153.57 in prizes, a total loss of £924.44 (47p per draw).

**10,000**

It is estimated that in each draw, 10,000 people choose the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Of course, numbers that form a nice pattern like this are as likely as any other combination, so they are in no way reducing their chance of winning. But given most jackpots are around the £4m mark, if those numbers do come up, everyone will walk away with £400 each.

The price of a national lottery lotto ticket was increased to £2 in 2013. Photograph: Alamy

**4, 15, 23, 24, 35, 43**

The Bulgarian lottery uses the same run of numbers from 1 to 49 as the national lottery in the UK, and on 6 September 2009 the winning numbers were 4, 15, 23, 24, 35 and 43. This was completely unremarkable until exactly the same numbers were drawn again on 10 September 2009. At which point, it was still unremarkable. People demanded an inquiry into draw fixing, but with so many lotteries around the world, some of them will occasionally have freaky matches. Even the most unlikely results happen at a very predictable rate.

**39**

Currently, the number that has not been seen for the longest is 39, which was last drawn on 9 July 2014, over 100 days ago. But that does not make it any more likely or unlikely to be come up in the next draw. Despite what several online scams and get-rich books claim, every lottery draw is completely random and independent from all previous results. Expecting certain numbers to be “due” is called the “gambler’s fallacy”. There is no way to increase your odds of winning.

• This article was amended on 17 November 2014. In the section headed “55.5p” the figures for Camelot’s ticket sales, prize outlay and charitable donations were all given as 1000 times lower than reality. In addition, the country where the same numbers came up twice was Bulgaria, not Belgium. These errors have now been corrected. The article was further amended on 19 November 2014 to correct the date of the first national lottery draw.

<strong>Matt Parker:</strong> You are almost as likely to have been married to Katie Price as you are to win the jackpot, 20 is the least drawn number and 10,000 people are picking 1,2,3,4,5,6 every single week ]]>