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Can the same lottery numbers come up twice?

Many lottery players wonder if the same set of numbers can come up twice in a lottery drawing. This is an interesting question that requires some investigation into how lottery drawings work. The short answer is that yes, the same numbers can be drawn multiple times, but the odds of this happening are extremely low. Lotteries are designed to produce random results, so numbers are not removed from the pool after they are drawn. However, the chances of identical draws occurring are very slim. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how lotteries work and analyze the probabilities behind recurring number combinations.

How Lottery Drawings Work

Lotteries use various methods to generate random number combinations for their drawings. Most utilize mechanical ball drawings where numbered balls are mixed in a machine and then selected one by one. Others use computerized random number generators to produce winning numbers. In either case, the goal is to create results that are completely random and unpredictable.

Once a drawing occurs, the selected numbers are not removed from the pool of potential numbers. All the numbered balls used in mechanical drawings are placed back into the machine to be mixed again for the next drawing. Similarly, computerized systems do not delete digits after they are drawn. The pool of numbers remains constant from one drawing to the next.

This means that any number or combination of numbers has the same probability of being chosen each time. The odds are reset for each drawing regardless of the results of previous drawings. So there is no reason the same numbers couldn’t be repeated if they were randomly selected again.

Probability of Repeated Lottery Numbers

Now that we know duplicate numbers are possible in lottery games, let’s look at the likelihood of this actually occurring. The odds will depend on the specific game’s format and number pool.

For a simple 6/49 game where six numbers are drawn from 1-49, the odds of matching all six numbers is around 1 in 14 million. If you were to buy 14 million tickets with a different number combination on each one, you would expect to match the winning numbers once.

The probability of getting the same combination twice if you purchased 14 million tickets is much less likely. It would be 1 in 14 million squared, or 1 in 196 trillion! This shows it is extremely rare for the same six numbers to be drawn twice in this type of lottery.

The chances improve slightly for lotteries where fewer numbers are selected from a smaller number field. A pick 3 game drawing 3 numbers from 0-9 has odds of 1 in 1,000 of matching the winning combination. The probability of that same combination occurring twice if you bought 1,000 tickets is 1 in 1 million. Still unlikely, but better odds than the 6/49 game.

Some lotteries also offer secondary prize payouts if some numbers match, even if the whole combination is different. For example, matching 5 out of 6 numbers might pay out a prize. The chances of a partial match repeat are higher than the odds of matching all numbers twice. But it is still a long-shot proposition.

Factors in Repeated Lottery Numbers

A few factors influence the probabilities of repeating lottery numbers. First is the size of the number field and how many numbers are drawn. The smaller these are, the better the odds of a duplicate draw. Lotteries like Pick 3 have a better chance than games like Powerball where 5 numbers from 1-69 are chosen.

The number of tickets in play also impacts the odds. The more number combinations that are covered for a drawing, the better the chances are that a repeat combination will come up. When huge jackpots drive more entrants, there are more tickets in the mix that could potentially match a previous draw.

Finally, the laws of probability dictate that over a long enough timeframe, rare events will eventually occur. So while the odds of matching the same lottery numbers twice are infinitesimal for any single drawing, the chances increase if you play the lottery straight for hundreds of years! Of course, no one has that long to play, so don’t count on seeing repeated combinations anytime soon.

Famous Examples of Repeated Lottery Numbers

While the odds are astronomical, there have been some documented cases of lottery draws producing identical numbers more than once. These rare events generate interest and excitement from lottery players dreaming of lightning striking twice.

One of the most famous repeat draws occurred in the Bulgarian lottery on September 6, 2009. That evening’s drawing improbably produced the same six numbers as the drawing three weeks earlier on August 16. The numbers–4, 15, 23, 24, 35, and 42–had odds of 1 in 4.2 million of repeating.

Two of the biggest lottery games in the United States have also seen duplicated numbers. In the Mega Millions multi-state game, the combination 5, 50, 53, 58, 16, and 21 was drawn twice, first in December 2013 and again in March 2017. And in Powerball, which is available in 45 states, the numbers 32, 41, 47, 50, and 57 were drawn in both October 2015 and January 2016.

While lottery officials insist that random patterns like these will emerge occasionally over time, some skeptical observers question whether lottery drawings are truly random. However, the odds of naturally matching all numbers a second time are low enough that there is no definitive evidence of manipulation based on these few occurrences alone.

Should You Play Duplicate Numbers?

If the same numbers can come up twice in different drawings, does it make sense to play the same combination again after it hits? Unfortunately, the odds don’t support this as a good strategy. Just because a set of numbers has won before, they don’t have any better chance in future drawings. The random selection process makes every combination equally likely each time.

Some devotees of lottery number analytics will point to “hot numbers” that seem to hit more frequently than others. But statistically, each number should come up equally over a long period. Relying on any biases is not a smart play.

Likewise, some players utilize the duplicates in quirkier ways. For instance, trying to win with numbers that previously repeated by playing that combination along with the drawing dates. Such gimmicks don’t change the random mechanics at work either. You may win big once employing such a strategy but be unable to replicate it.

Ultimately, building any lottery strategy around duplicate past numbers is an ill-advised approach. Superstitions and coincidences should not guide your picks. Stick to completely random number generation for the best mathematical odds, no matter how you’ve won before.

Should Lotteries Retire Repeated Numbers?

If winning combinations could not be repeated, it would fundamentally change the nature of lottery games. No longer could all numbers have an equal chance of being chosen each drawing. But some propose this could help restore public trust and reduce suspicions of manipulation.

Retiring past winning numbers would ensure that only fresh selections could be made each time. However, this would also complicate the process. Lotteries using physical ball machines would need to remove the previously drawn numbered balls before each new drawing. Computer algorithms would have to be rewritten to exclude past winning combinations.

Odds calculations and payout structures might need adjustment if the total number pool was reduced over time as more numbers were eliminated. And an unlucky number that got chosen early would have worse overall odds of appearing than one drawn later.

Given the rarity of repeats, the logistical issues, and the minimal impacts on odds, most lottery operators consider it unnecessary to retire winning numbers. The random selection processes already give all combinations equal likelihood of being chosen fair and square. Preventing repeats would be mostly theatrics to appease the portion of the public that considers duplicate combinations suspicious, even though they are to be expected probabilistically over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have there been any cases of lottery drawings repeating 3 times?

It is highly unlikely for a lottery drawing to produce the same combination of numbers three times. The probabilities involved make this almost an impossibility. There are no known cases of any lottery having the same set of numbers chosen three times in separate drawings. The odds against this prevent it from being a realistic occurrence. At best, combinations have only been documented to repeat one additional time beyond the original drawing.

What are the odds of winning the lottery twice?

Winning any major lottery jackpot is extremely rare, with odds ranging from 1 in millions to over 1 in 100 millions depending on the game. To win a big lottery prize twice is astronomically more unlikely. For a game like Powerball, the odds of winning the jackpot are about 1 in 293 million. To win it twice, the odds would be 1 in 293 million squared, or 1 in 86 quintillion! Essentially it is nearly impossible for the same person to hit two big lottery jackpots. That lucky break almost never strikes the same person twice.

Has anyone ever rigged the lottery drawings?

There have been several instances of lottery scandals where workers or others connected to the lottery have attempted to cheat or rig the results. One famous case involved an insider who implanted a rootkit virus to funnel winning numbers to himself. However, thanks to strict security protocols, auditing, and randomness testing, most major lottery drawings have extensive protections in place. Any cheating or rigging of the results themselves would be very difficult to accomplish and has not occurred despite some reported attempts. Manipulating something as heavily regulated as lottery drawings remains an implausible scenario.

Can you increase your odds of winning the lottery?

There is no way to predict or improve your odds of winning the lottery’s top prize beyond simply buying more tickets to increase your chances. Each ticket has the same probability of winning. Lotteries use elaborate safeguards to ensure results are truly random, so there are no patterns or odds fluctuations to exploit. Your best bet is purchasing the maximum number of tickets you can afford and hoping for an extremely lucky outcome beating the long odds. There are no secret tricks or strategies to boost your odds of hitting the jackpot beyond basic probability.

Has anyone won the lottery more than once?

Multiple lottery wins by a single person are very rare, but there are some well-documented cases. One of the luckiest lottery winners was Joan Ginther who won large lottery payouts 4 times in the span of a few years. Another repeat winner is Richard Lustig who claimed 7 lottery wins between 1993 and 2010. Lustig attributes his luck to careful strategy. However, statisticians note that the odds of multiple wins by the same person are low enough to suggest something unusual occurred in these cases. For most people, even one lottery win in their lifetime remains a very remote possibility, let alone winning the jackpot multiple times.


Getting the same exact lottery numbers drawn twice is an extremely unlikely event, but not an impossible one. Lotteries are designed to produce random outcomes, so previously drawn numbers can be selected again. Although the probabilities of matching all numbers twice are astronomically low, a few historical examples prove it can occasionally happen in the long run. While winners understandably get excited about duplicated combinations, this remains a statistical rarity not worth chasing as a playing strategy. Those looking to maximize their lottery odds are still best served choosing numbers at true random. With the right amount of luck, lightning may sometimes strike twice after all.