No $26.7 million lottery winner

Last updated 21:18 17/06/2009

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A record 2.9 million Lotto tickets were sold for tonight's more than $25 million Big Wednesday draw, but there was no big winner.

With tonight's $26.7 million prize not won it will now jackpot to $30m - the maximum allowed under legislation.

NZ Lotteries said it sold a record 2.9 million Big Wednesday tickets this week, compared with the weekly average of 500,000.

Retailers this evening reported huge demand with queues of buyers outside some shops.

The previous record for ticket sales was 2.3 million, sold for last year's $30m Powerball draw, which was split among five winners.

The Problem Gambling Foundation has called for the $30m limit on jackpots to be cut to $12.5m, saying such large prizes lure people into gambling.

Tonight's jackpot featured $25m cash plus $1.7m in prizes.

NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay said if no one won first division in next week's Big Wednesday draw the first division prize pool would be added to that of the next highest prize division where there were winners.

The Big Wednesday luxury prize line-up could be taken as a cash prize, which would enable the prize to be split equally if there was more than one big winner.

''This 'Must Be Won' draw has been triggered due to Big Wednesday's jackpotting cash and prizes reaching the threshold of $30 million, as set out in NZ Lotteries' game rules,'' he said.

Big Wednesday's first division had not been struck for 21 weeks, making it the longest jackpot run in NZ Lotteries' history, Mr McLeay said.

The largest Big Wednesday first division prize to date was a $12.8m prize won by a Thames player in February 2006 and the largest NZ Lotteries prize won to date as a $19m Powerball prize won by a New Plymouth player in April 2008.

Next Wednesday's prizes will comprise $28m cash, two luxury cars ,a $250,000 credit card, a $250,000 travel package, a boat and $750,000 bach.

The odds of winning from a six-line lucky dip ticket are one in 2,715,020.

The Problem Gambling Foundation has criticised lottery jackpots for encouraging an illusion.

But NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said lotteries were one of the least addictive forms of gambling and most people were aware it was "a very small chance of winning a very large prize".

The chances of a single ticket scooping the whole prize are so slim they confounded a maths academic's computer, The Dominion Post reported today.

To win the top prize, a player has to match six numbers on their ticket with the six purple balls drawn on television and pick the right side of a computerised coin toss as well.

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"Do I believe in this? No. Because of the numbers," Stefanka Chukova, an associate professor at Victoria University's school of mathematics said.

She reported that the chances of victory were microscopic about one in 16 million for every line of numbers and one in 2.7 million for a lucky dip ticket.

YOUR CHANCES:

-Dying in a car crash on New Zealand roads: 1 in 11,000

-Having caught swine flu by yesterday: 1 in 40,000

-Being struck by lightning: 1 in 280,000

-Being elected Prime Minister: 1 in 4,312,532

-Winning a share of Big Wednesday: 1 in 2,715,020

- By TOM FITZSIMONS, The Dominion Post, NZPA and Stuff.co.nz

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