Lottery balls

Method to the madness

You ever think to yourself when the lottery jackpot gets crazy high, “Man, I wish I could just buy all the number combinations?” Well, someone did just that in Texas and won.

The person or persons who did it are unknown, as they bought the tickets under name of a limited partnership called Rook TX. It is unconfirmed, but the Texas Lottery Commission is fairly certain that Rook TX bought every possible combination of numbers for the April 22, 2023 state lottery drawing in which the jackpot was $95 million. On June 27, the state paid the partnership a lump sum of $57.8 million.

The risky part about this entirely legal scheme is that there could be multiple winners and thus a split jackpot. But Rook TX likely picked that April 22 to try to maximize it winnings and minimize the odds of a split pot. The jackpot was big enough to be worth it, but not so big – like the billion-dollar jackpots we’ve seen in the multi-state lotteries the last few years – that an unusually high number of people would be playing. The fewer players, the less of a chance of multiple winners.

The other key was that there are lesser prizes, as well, for matching three, four, and five out of the six numbers. Texas Lottery Commission records show that Rook TX cashed every single five-of-six combination, an indication that Rook TX did, in fact, buy every possible six-number combination.

Printers working overtime

The obvious obstacle to this plan, besides having the funds, is buying enough tickets. Texas requires tickets to be printed from official machines, but it does permit apps that do that for people, a lottery valet of sorts. Going further, Texas has licensed outlets that serve solely as lottery ticket printers. Picture a storefront with just a bunch of lottery ticket machines, rather than, say, a convenience store with just one or two machines. The top six lottery outlets in the state last year were these kinds of stores, partnered with online apps.

The more than 28 million tickets bought for the April 22, 2023 drawing were mostly purchased at four app-associated outlets. Rook TX’s jackpot ticket was bought at a store called Lottery Now in Colleyville, which sold 11 million tickets in just three days. It seems like Lottery Now may have ramped up its capabilities in order to accommodate Rook TX’s gambit: it had one lottery terminal at the beginning of the year and added a dozen more by April 19. A week and a half after Rook TX’s win, Lottery Now had removed all but three terminals.

So Rook TX beat the system by spending $25.8 million to win the jackpot. And not only is it legal, but the state of Texas loves it because that means more tickets are sold.

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