Five-Time Lottery Winner

By Ben Hamill - December 14 2015
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Whenever anyone speaks about the odds of winning the lottery, I think about Seguro Ndabene, a Calgary lottery player who has won the jackpot five times.

Statisticians say that chances of winning a lottery are small. For instance, there’s a roughly1 in 14 million chance to win the national Lotto 6/49 and 1 in 28.6 million chance of winning the second Canadian national lottery, Lotto Max.

The odds of winning a provincial lottery are better, since fewer players are buying tickets, though the prizes are smaller. But the odds of winning a significant prize are still low. So how do you explain Ndabene?

$17 and Counting

In 2004 Ndabene won $1 million in the Western 6/49. In 2006 he won $100,000 in the Super 7 Extra and in 2006 he won $1 plus $50,000 in the Western 6/49. His latest win came in 2009 when he hit the jackpot in the Alberta lottery with a $17 million win on the Super 7 draw.

Ndabene admitted that he buys hundreds of tickets every month from different places throughout the Calgary area In addition, he is a member of a pool of people who purchase their tickets together from an Airdrie kiosk. Yet his record for wins is remarkable.

“I’ve got no system. I just play in every game.” he said. After his 2006 Super 7 win, however, he continued to play the winning numbers from his Super 7 payout in subsequent lottery ticket purchases.

Lawsuit

Not everyone was pleased about Ndabene’s 5th win. Antonin Koprnicky, the brother-in-law of Lisa Blanchette — owner of the kiosk where Ndabene bought his ticket and pool organizer — challenged Ndabene’s claim as the sole winner of the jackpot. He alleged that the winning ticket had been part of the lottery pool’s ticket purchase. The case was so convoluted that the WCLC asked that the case be heard in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.

In presenting his case, Ndabene demonstrated that the numbers that he usually selects when he plays individually — the numbers of his 2006 Super 7 win — are the ones displayed on the randomly generated Quick-Pick Ticket. In addition, the group’s pool tickets are always stamped on the back to indicate the group claim, and that stamp was lacking on Ndabene’s winning ticket. Furthermore, the a lottery group agreement is updated every week and the updates list the name of each participants who is playing that week, together with their contribution and phone number. The lottery agreement for the Super 7 in which Ndabene’s ticket won doesn’t include Koprnicky’s (or anyone else’s) name.

Decision

The King’s Court agreed with Ndabene and gave the WCLC the go-ahead to present Ndabene with his winnings. Nine months after the win, Ndabene was allowed to collect his payout, though he was disturbed that it had taken the system so long to give him the money. The funds had been put in an interest-bearing account during the court proceedings but Ndabene threatened to sue the WCLC, saying that the delay was unjustified. Koprnicky, he noted, never showed evidence to back up his claim of partial ownership of the ticket and the delaying tactic had caused his a significant amount of distress.

Ndabene, father of three who lives in Airdrie, a small community north of Calgary, is a past employee of a forestry service in Behchoko, N.W.T., northwest of Yellowknife. He has a degree in business administration and plans to use his jackpot winnings to pay down his mortgage and plan for his children’s future education.

Multi-Winners

There is no evidence that Ndabene has scammed the system or even discovered a way to manipulate the lottery for his own gain. Yet his multiple wins challenge mathematicians. Sean Graves, a math instructor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, says “There is always a possibility, but the probability is absolutely almost next to nothing … so, so tiny, a fraction of a per cent.”

People who win the lottery multiple times are rare and, as noted, defy the odds, but there have been several individuals who, over the years, have hit the jackpot multiple times.

In Bonne Terre Missouri Ernest Pullen became the first Missouri Lottery player to win $1million or more on multiple scratch-off tickets. Pullen, 57, won $1 million on a 100 Million Dollar Blockbuster scratchers ticket and then doubled his payout with a $2million on a Mega Monopoly scratchers ticket. Pullen described a dream in which he foresaw his future. "About six years ago, I had a dream that I won a lot of money" he recalled. Yet after his $1million win he didn't feel as though he had yet completed the dream . His second win gave allowed him to feel satisfied that he was done. "All the numbers I dreamed about, and all my lucky numbers, were on the card.: Pullen allowed that in the future “I might buy a Powerball and a Mega Millions, but that's about it." Pullen will now receive installations of his payments, which will total $1.3million before taxes.

Angelo and Maria Gallina had been spending $20 a day for 17 years on the Supper Lotto Plus when they won twice — on the same day. An hour after the 70-something couple won $126,000 on a Fantasy Five game, they added $17 million to their bankroll in a SuperLotto Plus game. Mathematicians say that the odds of that happening are 1 in 24 trillion. Yet the Gallinas never lost hope and their dreams came true in a big way. Angelo Gallina is a retired railroad machinist from Belmont California. The couple has been playing lottery games every day since the California lottery started in 1985.

 

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