Monday, June 8, 2015

How MIT Students Won $8 Million in the Massachusetts Lottery

TIME magazine reports this story under its "Crime" section, but it sounds to me like smarts beating out the state (and apparently at some point co-opting state lottery officials):
Several years ago, while doing research for a school project, a group of MIT students realized that, for a few days every three months or so, the most reliably lucrative lottery game in the country was Massachusetts’ Cash WinFall, because of a quirk in the way a jackpot was broken down into smaller prizes if there was no big winner. The math whizzes quickly discovered that buying about $100,000 in Cash WinFall tickets on those days would virtually guarantee success. Buying $600,000 worth of tickets would bring a 15%–20% return on investment, according to the New York Daily News.
When the jackpot rose to $2 million, the students bought in, dividing the prize money among group members. But they didn’t stop there; they were so successful in their caper that they were eventually able to quit their day jobs and bring in investors to front the money they needed to purchase the requisite number of lottery tickets. Several other syndicates sprang up to capitalize on the Cash WinFall loopholes, but the MIT group remained one of the most successful and innovative. By 2005, the group had earned almost $8 million with its system, according to an investigation by the Boston Globe. By 2010, it had figured out how to win the entire jackpot in a single drawing.
A recent report by the state’s inspector general reveals more details about the scheme, including the fact that the Massachusetts Lottery knew of the students’ ploy and for years did nothing to stop it. The inspector general’s report claims that lottery officials actually bent rules to allow the group to buy hundreds of thousands of the $2 tickets, because doing so increased revenues and made the lottery even more successful. While the students’ actions are not illegal, state treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the lottery, finally stopped the game this year.
(ht  David G Mueller)


  1. Well done! Why not play other lotteries, for example, Australians? Australian Lotto results and much more other interesting information you can find on the Web!

  2. Nice Work.I knew it that there are some logic mythology to win in the lottery. It is interesting, can it work in any lottery. According to me, I play Australian lotto such as Powerball or Oz lotto, now I use website in order to check results. And I want to know how to win lottery very often. It is so excited...

  3. Reminds me of the Lazlo Hollyfeld character in the movie Real Genius.