uk national lottery

JACKPOT!!!! Hmm… Maybe not… 🙂

Did you hear the news about the refactoring of the uk lottery format? No?

Do you even play the lottery?

I am guessing the vast majority of financially savvy folk out there do not, but there are still a few of us who soldier on even though the rational choice is always not to play, given that the odds are stacked so massively against you.

However the recent news tells us that the odds of winning are getting even worse!

This could be bad news for many lottery players but I am going to spin it around on it’s head and turn it into some great news for you more rational thinkers out there:

This is the perfect opportunity to finally “get out” of the game!


but what about my numbers?

This is the classic argument that will often get stated when you tell someone they should just stop wasting their money on the lottery. Those that unfortunately “got in” years ago in a foolish moment, perhaps when they were younger and more naive, and hadn’t yet grasped the sheer improbability of the whole thing.

Those who read my monthly expense updates will no doubt have noticed that we do in fact play the national lottery in the TFS household, despite my continued protests, for this very specific reason. However, with those extra 10 numbers making a bit of a mockery on those who have picked their numbers from the original set of 49, kind of destroys this “my numbers” argument IMHO.

So I’m glad to report that Mrs T has finally seen the light and decided to knock it on the head when these changes come into effect in October. Whoo hoo! 🙂

This means we’ll have another £18 per month, or £3,114 compounded over a ten year period to add to our FI stash. So great news all round!

If you know of anyone who is still touting this reason as the one they are still playing, maybe you can send them this post and give them the perfect escape route as well?

And if that reasoning still doesn’t convince them, take a look at this post which works out that your expected return on each £2 ticket you buy is just 61p. Yes that’s right, every time you buy a ticket you might as well just throw £1.39 down the drain and have done with it!!!!


probability of winning old lottery vs new one


From the horses mouth itself at UK Lottery HQ here are the probabilities of winning on the old format vs the new one:

Current (6/49) Lotto Enhanced (6/59) Lotto
Match Prize Odds Prize Odds
Match 6 Jackpot 1 : 13,983,816 Jackpot 1 : 45,057,474
Match 5 + Bonus Ball Estimated £50,000 1 : 2,330,636 Estimated £50,000 1 : 7,509,579
Match 5 Estimated £1,000 1 : 55,491 Estimated £1,000 1 : 144,415
Match 4 Estimated £100 1 : 1,033 Estimated £100 1 : 2,180
Match 3 £25 1 : 57 £25 1 : 97
Match 2 N / A N / A Free Lotto Lucky Dip 1 : 10.3
Raffle Prizes Guaranteed £20,000 Guaranteed £1 million & £20,000 prize tiers
Overall odds of winning a prize 1 in 54 1 in 9.3
Overall odds of becoming a millionaire** 1 in 14 million 1 in 10 million

Overall odds are rounded to nearest whole number for simplicity. **Overall odds of becoming a millionaire refers to combined odds of winning the Jackpot or £1 million on the Millionaire Raffle in an average week.


Believe it or not, the national lottery is actually trying to spin this in a positive light by focusing on the fact that “Overall odds of winning a prize” and “Overall odds of becoming a millionaire” have dropped ever so slightly.

But let’s face it 1 in 10 million is still a vanishingly small chance to hit millionaire status (especially when you compare it to the tried and tested route of earning more, spending less and investing the difference!) and who ever wanted to win a free Lotto Lucky Dip for fuck’s sake!?


things that are more likely to happen than winning the lottery

It would be sloppy blogging indeed if I were to write a post about the lottery without including the standard list of things that are more likely to happen to you than winning the lottery, so here goes:

Things that are more likely than winning the “Enhanced Lotto” Jackpot (45,057,474/1):

  • Killed in a plane crash: 11,000,000/1*
  • Becoming a saint: 20,000,000/1****
  • Manchester United to be relegated (4,000/1) and Watford to win the Premier League (10,000/1) this (2015/16) season: combined odds of 40,014,001/1**

Things that are more likely than the odds of becoming a millionaire in the “Enhanced Lotto” (10 million to 1):

  • Killed by lightning: 10,000,000/1*
  • A randomly selected person in the UK today ever becoming prime minister: 8,857,142/1 1
  • Killed by falling out of bed: 2,000,000 to 1*
  • Getting a royal flush in poker on first five cards dealt: 649,740/1****

Things that are more likely than the odds of matching 5 balls to win a paltry ~£1,000 (144,415/1):

  • Dating a supermodel: 88,000/1****
  • Prince Harry to marry Cheryl Cole (175/1) and Kayne West to win time person of the year (100/1): combined odds of 17,776/1***
  • Killed in a road accident: 8,000/1*

Things that are more likely than the odds of “winning a prize” in the Enhanced Lottery (10.3/1):

  • Celebrity marriage lasting a lifetime: 3/1****
  • Getting away with murder: 2/1**** (!!!!)
  • Achieving FIRE if you really give it a good crack: >50%
  • Improving your life immeasurably by attempting to achieve FIRE: 99.99% 2


*The Mirror


***Paddy Power

****Strange Cosmos – Extra note, I like the “Chance of developing schizophrenia: 1 in 00” on this page. Is that a deliberate typo!? 🙂


and finally…

Now a few things which are (gladly) more unlikely than winning the new Enhanced Jackpot:

  • Dying from a shark attack: 300,000,000/1
  • Being killed on a 5-mile bus trip: 500,000,000/1
  • A meteor landing on your house: 182,138,880,000,000/1 (Phew, I always worried about that one!)


Finally one interesting thing that is much, much more unlikely than winning the uk national lottery is…:

  • The odds of you existing, as you, right now today – see here for the awe inspiring final number (I love this!)


May the odds be ever in your favour! 🙂


  1. Some rather crude maths here, inspired by this post here which doesn’t quite give the answer I was looking for. So if we take the average life expectancy in the UK which is 81, then make a huge assumption that age demographics are entirely smooth so the average expected life from this point onwards is exactly half that, so ~40 years. Then look at how many prime ministers have served in the last 40 years, which is 7, then divide that by the population = 62 million / 7 = 8,857,142/1 (We can handily ignore everyone who will be born after today as all prime ministers so far have been over the age of 40, so it is unlikely they will ever become prime minister in the time frame we are concerned with. I am sure there are some huge gaping holes in this calculation, if anyone has a better way of doing it let me know!)
  2. OK so I made these last two up but I think they’re quite fair?