Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pa. Lottery loses big on 7-7-7-7 win


Talk about your lucky sevens.

Wednesday night, all sevens came up in Pennsylvania Lottery's Big 4 drawing, resulting in a whopping $7.77 million payout to 3,107 winning tickets.

In an added twist, the news came Thursday when the Super 7 jackpot was $7.3 million and Cash 5's top prize was $770,000.

The Big 4 payout was a staggering 1,573 percent of sales revenue, according to lottery spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis. In other words: The lottery has to dish out about $7.2 million more than it took in for that drawing.

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  • "We definitely lost money on the Big 4, that's for sure," Alvanitakis said. "But it's great for our players. People love to play quadruple numbers."

    "It's definitely not an April Fool's joke," she said.

    A key factor in the large payout is that Big 4's winning amounts are fixed; they're not a cut of cash collected. A 50-cent wager fetches $2,500, a $1 bet $5,000.

    Also, 7-7-7-7 is extraordinarily popular. Most Big 4 drawings produce far fewer winners. Wednesday's midday drawing (9-3-5-5) had 104 winners, and Tuesday evening's game (0-6-3-9) was hit by 250 people, Alvanitakis said.

    Luckily for the state, winning quadruples - popular with players - are rare. The last quadruple drawn was 2-2-2-2 on Sept. 2, 2008, when 1,236 winners collected a total of $3.09 million.

    The 7-7-7-7 combination has come up only twice since Big 4 began in November 1980.

    Although the lottery lost money on the drawing, that situation was not unanticipated.

    "We operate our numbers games with the expectation that when triples or quadruples hit, we will lose money," Alvanitakis said.

    Also, there's a safeguard. "We have a sales cutoff of $10 million for Big 4 for any number combination - including quadruples - to ensure Lottery's liability does not exceed its ability to pay winners," she said.

    Despite the big payout, the game made money for March, she said. Proof yet again that the odds are stacked in the house's favor.


    Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or

    Inquirer Staff Writer
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