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What are the odds for the California Fantasy 5 lottery?

The California Fantasy 5 is a popular lottery game exclusive to California. Players pick 5 numbers from 1 to 39 and try to match them to the 5 winning numbers drawn by the California Lottery. The great appeal of Fantasy 5 is that it offers relatively good odds of winning compared to other lotteries, while still providing the opportunity to win big jackpots. In this article, we’ll break down the odds and probabilities associated with playing Fantasy 5 to show you what kind of chances you have for each of the different prize levels. Understanding your probability of winning can help make playing Fantasy 5 more enjoyable, knowing how often you can realistically expect to win and how much you might take home.

How to Play Fantasy 5

Let’s first go over the basics of how to play Fantasy 5 for those unfamiliar with the game. To play, you first need to pick 5 numbers from 1 to 39. You can choose your own numbers by filling out a play slip at a licensed California Lottery retailer or use the “Quick Pick” option to have the terminal randomly select numbers for you. It costs $1 per play.

Drawings are held daily at 6:30 PM PT. At each drawing, 5 winning numbers are randomly selected along with a bonus “XTRA” number.

There are several ways to win prizes:

  • Match all 5 winning numbers in exact order – Jackpot
  • Match all 5 numbers in any order – $20,000 fixed payout
  • Match 4 numbers in any order – $276 fixed payout
  • Match 3 numbers in any order – $8.50 fixed payout
  • Match 2 numbers in any order – Free ticket for a future drawing

The jackpot starts at $40,000 and continues rolling over each drawing until there is a winner. The odds of hitting the jackpot are steep, but Fantasy 5 offers solid chances at the smaller fixed payouts.

Odds of Matching All 5 Winning Numbers

Matching all 5 winning numbers in exact order is how you win the Fantasy 5 jackpot prize, which can grow into the millions before someone finally hits it. But what are your actual odds of matching all 5 winning numbers?

With Fantasy 5, you have to pick 5 numbers out of a field of 39 total numbers. The order the numbers are picked matters, unlike some other lottery games like Powerball where the order doesn’t affect your odds. There are a few ways to calculate the odds:

  • 39 x 38 x 37 x 36 x 35 = 1 in 575,757
  • (39/1) x (38/2) x (37/3) x (36/4) x (35/5) = 1 in 575,757

So your odds of winning the Fantasy 5 jackpot by matching all 5 numbers in exact order are approximately 1 in 575,757 per $1 play. This equates to about a 1 in 288,000 chance overall.

Clearly, your probability of hitting the big Fantasy 5 jackpot is quite slim at less than 0.001%. But keep in mind that the jackpot gets massive since no one hits it for so many drawings in a row. That helps offset the long odds. Let’s look at the payouts for matching fewer numbers.

Odds of Matching 4, 3, or 2 Numbers

While taking home the full jackpot is unlikely, your chances to win smaller fixed payouts by matching just some of the numbers are significantly better:

  • Match 4 numbers – 1 in 2,469 ($276 prize)
  • Match 3 numbers – 1 in 103.5 ($8.50 prize)
  • Match 2 numbers – 1 in 9.7 (Free $1 ticket)

As you can see, matching 4 numbers offers a common prize of $276 at odds of about 1 in 2,500. Matching 3 numbers also produces frequent winners with a $8.50 payout at odds of 1 in 104. With 2 numbers matched, you win a free $1 ticket about 1 in every 10 drawings.

So while the jackpot odds are incredibly long, Fantasy 5 players can expect to hit some of the smaller prizes fairly often. Lower tier prizes help add to the fun and excitement of playing when you’re not waiting years for a jackpot win.

How Jackpot Odds Are Affected by Number of Tickets Sold

One important caveat is that the odds listed above are based on a single $1 ticket. They reflect your chance of winning per individual play.

In reality, millions of Fantasy 5 tickets are purchased for each drawing. All those extra tickets reduce your jackpot odds even further. How do multiple tickets affect the probabilities?

Let’s say there are 3 million Fantasy 5 tickets sold for a particular drawing. Your chance of winning the jackpot with a single ticket is about 1 in 576,000.

But your chance of having the sole winning ticket is now just 1 in 3 million since there are 3 million other tickets against yours. The more tickets sold, the worse your jackpot odds become.

This is why huge jackpots of $5-10 million or more are possible in Fantasy 5. So many tickets are purchased that predicting the exact 5 numbers requires incredible luck. The number of tickets sold has less impact on the lower tier prizes, however, since multiple players often split those.

Most Common Fantasy 5 Numbers

Some players like to analyze the frequency of past winning numbers, believing it may offer clues into what numbers get picked the most. Here are the most common main numbers over the history of Fantasy 5 based on LotteryUSA data:

Number Frequency
32 276 times
7 272 times
17 267 times
5 261 times
11 260 times

As you can see, the numbers 32, 7, 17, 5, and 11 have been selected most as winning numbers. No number has been drawn significantly more or less than expected, however, indicating winning numbers appear to be random. While some players may look for patterns in hot and cold numbers, there is no statistical evidence that any biases exist.

Odds of Winning With Quick Pick vs Personal Picks

Fantasy 5 players have the option of choosing their own numbers or using the Quick Pick random number generator. Does one offer better odds than the other?

The odds of winning are exactly the same whether using Quick Pick or selecting your own number combinations. The random Quick Pick numbers have no better or worse probability than personally chosen numbers. This is because the outcome is entirely based on the 5 numbers ultimately picked in the drawing.

The one difference is that Quick Pick ensures no duplicate plays. If choosing your own numbers manually, you do need to be aware of checking your plays for duplicates that would essentially waste plays. But in the end, the odds of winning are the same no matter how you pick your numbers.

How to Improve Your Fantasy 5 Odds

While the baseline odds are fixed based on the game’s format, there are some things you can do to maximize your chances of winning Fantasy 5 prizes:

  • Buy more tickets – More tickets equals more chances to win.
  • Join a lottery pool – Splitting ticket purchases with others improves odds.
  • Use wheeling systems – Strategically combine more number combinations.
  • Be consistent – Playing every drawing avoids missing a win.
  • Mix up numbers – Don’t repeat the same picks every time.

Buying 10 plays per drawing will essentially give you 10 times the odds versus just a single ticket. Joining an office or friend lottery pool lets you afford more combined tickets with shared purchase costs.

Wheeling systems involve picking a large set of numbers and distributing them across multiple play slips in unique combinations to cover more possible number draws. Consistency is key as well – can’t win if you don’t play!

While the baseline odds are fixed, you can maximize your chances of winning the California Fantasy 5 lottery by using various strategies to increase your number of tickets played.

Odds of Winning Fantasy 5 Multiple Times

What about the chances of winning Fantasy 5 more than once? Can someone get especially lucky (or unlucky depending on how you view it) and hit two jackpots?

The odds of winning Fantasy 5 twice are simply the odds of winning once multiplied by the odds again:

1 in 575,757 x 1 in 575,757 = 1 in 332,383,829,249

So the probability of winning two Fantasy 5 jackpots is about 1 in 332 billion! Suffice to say, repeat jackpot wins are exceedingly rare. Smaller prizes may repeat more often for frequent players.

Most Draw Numbers Without a Winner

If no one matches all 5 winning numbers, the Fantasy 5 jackpot continues increasing for subsequent drawings. What’s the most drawings California Fantasy 5 has gone without a grand prize winner?

According to Lottery USA, the record is 41 drawings in a row without someone hitting the jackpot. This happened twice – once in 2005 and again in 2009. Both times, the jackpot eventually climbed to over $10 million before a winner was finally drawn.

Going two months without a jackpot winner is fairly uncommon. But it demonstrates how the odds allow jackpots to balloon to massive amounts when no one can match all 5 winning numbers.

Biggest Fantasy 5 Jackpots

Speaking of huge jackpots, what have been the largest Fantasy 5 top prizes awarded to date? Here are the 5 biggest CA Fantasy 5 jackpots of all time, per Lottery USA data:

Amount Date
$20.1 million October 25, 2005
$17.5 million December 31, 2007
$16.2 million August 13, 2009
$13.9 million January 7, 2016
$13.2 million September 27, 2012

As you can see, the record Fantasy 5 jackpot was over $20 million, won on October 25, 2005 after a 41-drawing run without a winner. Several other jackpots have surpassed $15 million during especially long dry spells. While rare, the huge jackpots are life-changing amounts for the lucky winners.

Where Fantasy 5 Prize Money Comes From

Fantasy 5 distributes roughly 50% of all ticket sales revenue back out as prize payouts. Where does the money come from to fund these jackpots and lower tier prizes?

All Fantasy 5 prizes are funded directly from ticket sales. For each $1 ticket sold:

  • 50 cents goes to prizes
  • 17 cents funds public education
  • 12 cents covers retailer commissions and operating expenses
  • 11 cents is profit for the California Lottery

When the jackpot rises, it’s because a larger percentage of sales is funneled to the grand prize during drawings with no big winner. This increases the jackpot for the next drawing. The overall payout rate remains fixed at 50% of sales.

Essentially, Fantasy 5 players collectively fund the prizes from a portion of their ticket purchases. The lottery then redistributes that money back out to the winners.

Taxes on Fantasy 5 Winnings

One aspect players need to keep in mind is taxes. While winning Fantasy 5 would provide a nice financial windfall, jackpots and some lower tier prizes are subject to both federal and California state taxes.

Here’s how Fantasy 5 prizes are taxed:

  • Jackpot – 37.1% total tax rate (25% federal, 12.3% California)
  • $20,000 top prize – 8.3% total tax rate (none federal, 8.3% California)
  • $276 prize – No tax withholding
  • $8.50 prize – No tax withholding

California does not tax Fantasy 5 prizes under $1,500. But the jackpot and $20,000 top prize awards are considered income and face hefty combined federal and state tax rates totalling over 1/3 owed on your winnings. The tax liability gets taken out immediately upon claiming, reducing your final jackpot amount by over 35%.

Odds of Winning Other CA Lottery Games

To provide some perspective, here are the odds of winning the jackpot or top prize in other California Lottery draw games:

Game Top Prize Odds
Powerball 1 in 292,201,338
Mega Millions 1 in 302,575,350
SuperLotto Plus 1 in 41,416,353
Daily Derby 1 in 1,979
Daily 3 1 in 1,000
Daily 4 1 in 10,000
Fantasy 5 1 in 575,757

Fantasy 5 offers significantly better jackpot odds than massive national games like Powerball and Mega Millions. The Daily 3 and Daily 4 drawings provide the best odds, but have smaller prizes. Fantasy 5 is the CA lottery game offering a balance of sizable jackpots and more reasonable odds.


The California Fantasy 5 lottery gives players the chance to win life-changing jackpots at better odds than most other lotteries. While hitting the grand prize is a long shot at 1 in 575,757 per play, matching some numbers is quite feasible. Fantasy 5 players have a solid chance of taking home lower tier prizes ranging from free tickets up to $20,000 on a frequent basis. Understanding the probabilities involved with Fantasy 5 can help set reasonable expectations while enjoying playing this exclusive California lottery game.