Missouri Lottery $3 Million Winner Had A ‘Strategy,’ But Is It Valid?

Written By Hill Kerby on July 21, 2023
$3 million Missouri Lottery scratch ticket winner claims she has a strategy.

A woman from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit recently won a $3 million prize from the Missouri Lottery scratch-ticket game, “$3,000,000 Spectacular.”

Along with claiming the winning ticket, the lady made another claim, this one more outlandish, about the strategy she used to secure the win.

“I like to go for the middle-of-the-pack tickets,” the woman told Lottery officials. “Like number 12 in a pack is a good ticket for me.”

By definition, lottery games do not involve skill. All participants have an equal chance of winning. 

Missouri Lottery provides level playing field for all players

Missourians have been playing the Missouri Lottery for 37 years. Unfortunately, tickets must be bought at retailers across The Show Me State, as any Missouri online lottery is still prohibited. There is no effort by lawmakers to change that at this time.

Every lottery game comes with pre-determined odds. This includes draw games like Powerball and Mega Millions, scratch-offs, keno, pull-tabs, etc.

The Missouri Lottery is transparent with game information, providing odds, ticket prices, prize levels and average winning chances for every game on its website. Its business model promotes responsible gambling, one committed to creating a form of entertainment that also serves as a sustainable way to fund education in Missouri.

To fulfill these goals, it must provide a level playing field for all participants to continue making a difference in students’ lives.

For the $3 Million Spectacular scratch-off, the average chances of winning are 1-in-2.64. This includes all prize levels, starting at $30 and escalating to the top prize of $3 million. Every prize level awards a fixed number of winners, some claimed and some unclaimed. The game’s top two prizes ($100,000 and $3 million) have each hit once, leaving two winning tickets from each tier still to be won.

Total prize distribution for the game is just over $71.9 million. A little over half ($36.3 million) has been won to date.

Strategy or superstition?

The recent jackpot winner’s strategy claims come from a combination of superstition, confirmation bias and variance. None are new to gambling. And none of them are viable strategies to rely on.


The game in question advertises 1,695,841 individual prizes across 14 payout levels. Multiply that by 2.64, and you have nearly 4.5 million tickets spread across all retailers statewide.

Scratch-off tickets are printed at a mass scale and divided arbitrarily. There’s no such thing as “middle of the pack” when you look at it from the Lottery’s perspective. Furthermore, the odds for the jackpot are lower than one in a million. Lottery officials can’t know which tickets are the select few, let alone which retailers received them.

Other superstitions include slots players touching the screen to elicit a desired result or craps players blowing on dice before shooting them across the table.

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias can work hand-in-hand with superstition. By definition, it describes the belief that new evidence confirms one’s existing beliefs.

The human brain naturally remembers greater outcomes, such as the one-in-a-million shot that hits. At the same time, it quickly forgets mundane results, such as every time a scratch-off ticket loses and gets thrown away.

In the case of the $3 million winner, her middle-of-the-pack strategy was confirmed when she won


Gambling involves risk by its very nature. With risk comes variance, or the range of results that can occur from all possibilities. For example, a coin flip has two outcomes with equal probability but can land on tails repeatedly.

The Missouri Lottery website explains the variance of its scratch-off games as follows:

“Average chances may vary from game to game due to the variance in prize structures. Overall, scratchers games generally have average chances of winning of 1 in 4. However, this does not mean that every fourth ticket will be a winner, as winning tickets are printed at random.”

Confirmation bias can set in when a player is on the right end of variance, too, such as after hitting the jackpot. 

Many so-called strategies associated with superstition and confirmation bias correlate with other at-risk behaviors for problem gambling. It is important to remember responsible gambling principles, such as setting limits and creating realistic expectations for entertainment and financial outcomes. 

Not all lottery games are created equal

Like casino gambling, different lottery games present different levels of risk, variance and rewards.

For example, the $3 million game’s 1-in-2.64 odds at winning are better than the average for all scratch-offs, which is 1 in 4. However, it costs $30 to play, which won’t be in everyone’s bankroll.

Other scratch-off games cost as little as $1, though you won’t be able to take home a seven-figure grand prize for that price point.

At the end of the day, you want to find a game that is enjoyable to play while falling within your price range and risk tolerance. Per the Missouri Lottery, prizes only equal 50% of sales. The rest goes to public education and operational costs.

Since its inception in 1986, the Missouri Lottery has contributed more than $7.5 billion to education, averaging 3-4% of the state’s funding.

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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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