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Group of smart friends bag millions after working out how to win the lottery

A group of super-smart friends have won more than $6million after working out how to win the lottery. Princeton University graduates Manuel Montori, 27, Matthew Gibbons, 26, Hannah Davinroy, 25, and Zoe Buonaiuto, 29, have enjoyed a winning streak across lotteries in four US states: Indiana, Missouri, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Their scheme came to light after Montori cashed in 61 winning scratch-off lottery tickets for Indiana’s Hossier Lottery in a single day. 58 of those winning tickets were for $1,000, with another three bagging $10,000 each, bringing the total to $88,000.

A week later, the group hit the jackpot in Missouri, after winning a $5million top prize on one of that state’s scratch-off tickets.

An investigation by the Indy Star further revealed Davinroy had scooped $1million from the DC Lottery in December 2019, $121,000 in the Missouri Lottery in September this year, as well as $100,00 won by Montori on the DC Lottery in March 2019.

The group, who are linked to an obscure company founded by Montori called Black Swan Capital LLC, came close to winning another $1million at a Hoosier Lottery draw at Indiana’s State Fair in 2019, but ended up going home with a $500 consolation prize.

Economists use the phrase ‘black swan’ to refer to a rare and important event that is easily explainable, but only after it has happened.

The pals have not commented on their wins, but they are believed to have used publicly-available data to dramatically narrow their chances of winning the lottery.

That would see them see how many tickets for a certain scratch-off game have been sold, ticket sales for that game would stop, and whether the top prize has been claimed.

Any tickets for soon-to-conclude games whose top prizes have not been won would then be bought en masse by the group. Some experts think they may have developed a mathematical algorithm to further improve their chances.

Jeffrey Miecznikowski, a biostatistician from the State University of New York said: ‘To win multiple jackpots, I think it’s incredibly rare. But there’s a lot of variables that go into that in terms of how many tickets are they buying and so on.

‘I don’t know how they’re doing it, but they must have access to information most likely that the average person doesn’t… my guess is that (lotteries) are not putting out enough information that you could use some fancy data science algorithms to figure this out.’

The group’s $5million success in Missouri came after they targeted the state’s Cash Extravaganza scratch-off tickets. They had been available to buy for several years, with no-one claiming its $5m top prize.

That saw them buy 20 books each containing 20 scratch-off tickets selling for $20 at least three times a week at multiple stores, splashing out tends of thousands of dollars.

Women who identified themselves as Hannah and Zoe bought up to 400 tickets a time in Indiana earlier this year. They asked to be notified about when new tickets for a certain game would arrive, and then come to snap those up too, spending a total of $48,000 on 1,600 tickets.

Asked what they were doing, the women said all would be revealed in an upcoming YouTube film.

The group has stayed largely quiet about their activities, although Montori and Davinoy have both been snapped with novelty checks while collecting two of their wins.

There is no suggestion that the group has done anything wrong, with members being vetted by state lottery boards after big wins.

Buoanaiuto has hinted they will share their secrets in the coming months, saying: ‘Call me back in a year. I’m happy to talk to you in a year… It’s exciting.’

The group’s strategy has been likened to making it easier to find a needle in a haystack.

Lottery odds expert Professor Phillip Stark, from the University of California-Berkeley said their strategy is probably not sustainable.

He said: ‘Somebody doubled their odds, but they haven’t made their odds into a reasonable investment.’

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