Ordinary folks first to claim share of P236-million pot
Around 40 of the 433 bettors who won the P236-million jackpot prize of the Grand Lotto 6/55 draw on Oct. 1 started claiming their prizes at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) office in Mandaluyong City on Monday, some traveling over 10 hours just to do so.
This developed as Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III vowed to push for a probe into the “suspicious” result of the lottery that saw the winners betting on simple multiples of the number 9 and winning over half a million pesos before taxes.
All 433 winners of the jackpot have been accounted for, the PCSO said in a statement. There were also 331 winners of the second prize worth P100,000 and 2,491 third prize winners worth P1,500 each.
In pictures it posted on Facebook, the PCSO showed about five rows of eight persons waiting at the agency’s head office for their turn to claim their prize of P545,245 each—subject to a final tax of 20 percent—for betting on the winning combination of 09-45-36-27-18-54.
“I am thankful to the PCSO that we are blessed with Jackpot Prizes. I traveled for 10 hours to get here and get my winnings. I really bet pattern 9, pattern 8, pattern 7, and pattern 6 for many years and I’m thankful that I finally won,” said one of the winners after receiving a check from PCSO general manager Mel Robles.
The state lottery agency also vowed full cooperation with the proposed Senate investigation, which Pimentel reiterated in an interview with Kabayan Noli de Castro’s radio program on ABS-CBN.
While they didn’t become millionaires, some of the winners told ABS-CBN News they were still thankful.
“Lucas”, a retired police officer turned farmer from Nueva Vizcaya, traveled for eight hours to claim his prize. Another bettor “Sonia” also won the jackpot after 5 years of betting. A third, “Neneng”, said it was her second time to try her chances on the same set of numbers.
The PCSO assured the public that the 6/55 Grand Lotto draw was above board.
“While statistically, this is a very rare occurrence, theoretically it can also happen because the lottery is a game of chance,” PCSO chairperson Junie Cua told ANC’s “Rundown”.
University of the Philippines statistician Peter Cayton said the statistical probability of 433 people winning a 6/55 lottery was one in 28,989,675 — “small but not impossible,” he noted on Twitter.
Quoting Robles, Cua said many bettors consistently placed bets on the multiples of the number 9, which is considered to be a lucky number.
“You can say many people have been taking care of those numbers for long,” Cua said.
Although the number of winners was unprecedented, he said there were no irregularities with the lotto draws, which are televised.
For Cua, it is better to address the technical questions regarding the lotto results at a proper forum.
“I’m so happy that the Senate has announced that they will have a hearing about this incident, which I think is appropriate, and PCSO and I personally welcome that initiative,” he added.
Robles also stood firm on the integrity of the results of last Saturday’s Grand Lotto draw.
“Every time you play, the entire nation wins. Each and every one of you playing any of the PCSO games is a big contributor to the funds provided by PCSO to the government, LGUs (local government units), and especially to the various charity programs of the agency. Without your PHP20, PCSO cannot give anything to anyone,” he said.
Robles said the games of PCSO are games of chance and there is no science nor statistics involved in determining the winning numbers unless they will play all the number combinations.
He added there is also no human intervention in choosing the winning numbers as these are selected by the draw machines and the only act by a human is the pressing of the button to switch on the machine.
Robles noted that the actual draws are conducted in the presence of a Commission on Audit representative and telecast live via People’s Television Network (PTV). The draws are likewise streamed live over the official Facebook pages of PCSO, PCSO Games Hub, PTV, and PCSO YouTube.
Robles said this “peculiar” occurrence is reminiscent of the Oct. 31, 2005 victory of 1,326 bettors who bagged second prize in the 6/45 Grand Lotto draw.
The bettors then picked 3-18-23-28-37-42, a combination they simply lifted from the sample number pattern that was printed as instruction on every lotto card.
“Had they thought of changing the number 18 to 19, the Philippines could have recorded the biggest number of winners who would have divided the lotto jackpot. Only six bettors then went home with the top prize and P2,709,583.20 richer,” Robles said.
He said these two incidents clearly indicate that no matter how slim the chances of winning the lottery jackpot are, there is always a “one in a billion, nay trillion chance” that this will happen again in the future.
Robles said there will always be instances where like-minded persons will experiment with number combinations and choose similar winning numbers.
Lotto winnings are taxed 20 percent pursuant to Republic Act No. 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.
Winning bettors can claim the check at PCSO’s main office in Mandaluyong by presenting the winning ticket and two identification cards. Unclaimed prizes within a year shall be forfeited.
The Grand Lotto is drawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.