Most Frequently and Least Frequently Drawn Lottery Numbers

lottery ticket close up“It’s a lottery”. How many times have you heard that in relation to anything where the odds of something happening are so long that arguably one of the most notable organisations is used as an example.

For decades there has long been a debate about whether playing the lottery is actually gambling. It does divide a lot of opinions because it is often the case that those who do not gamble from an online casino or sports betting sense, will in fact buy a lottery ticket occasionally (for a price which they see as money they are prepared to lose). This is because, as well as the jackpot which, more often than not is the millions, there are other prizes which are lower, though still very attractive if you get fewer numbers. Even the lowest lottery prize will usually give you a return of around 5-10 times your stake.

Of course, there are many different types of lotteries that have been introduced over the years, though the one that a lot of people in the UK are familiar with is the National Lottery (now known as the Lotto). Once upon a time, this draw was televised on a Saturday evening and was incorporated into a popular show that all the family looked forward to. The iconic lottery machine which produced the balls, could arguably today still be classed as a British institution.

For many, they were sad to see this come to an end because it was something that they could look forward to and formed part of a fulfilled Saturday evening. Also, there was (and is) no limit on how many people can win (it was and is very common for people to get exactly the same numbers), which means they knew on balance that the chances of getting a return of even the smallest amount were actually quite favourable, due to the sheer random nature.

49-Ball Lottery

national lottery

Let’s take a look at the statistics from the original 49 ball game format, which started in 1994 and which balls appeared the most often.

Table of frequency for numbers drawn since the inception of the 49 ball lottery (November 1994) Period of analysis: 19/11/1994 - 07/10/2015

NoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNox
1 x234 2 x241 3 x249 4 x248 5 x246 6 x256 7 x250 8 x239
9 x267 10 x258 11 x269 12 x252 13 x215 14 x245 15 x238 16 x223
17 x257 18 x258 19 x251 20 x215 21 x228 22 x252 23 x282 24 x260
25 x269 26 x242 27 x266 28 x254 29 x250 30 x274 31 x268 32 x249
33 x277 34 x249 35 x267 36 x239 37 x230 38 275 39 x268 40 x279
41 x232 42 x253 43 x267 44 x274 45 x247 46 x240 47 x263 48 x261
49 x264 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

*Data from the National Lottery

As you can see, when it comes to how frequently the numbers were drawn, over a 19 year period, this worked out to be quite even, with a modest range of 62 (215 to 277) over 2065 draws, which when you consider the law of probability, over this kind of time frame, the theory does prove that there is some kind of substance to it.

What is also interesting, is that over this period, there is not necessarily any kind of pattern that shows the higher numbers were drawn as many times as the lower numbers; in fact, they are all quite evenly distributed.

Most And Least Common Numbers - 49 ball Lottery

Most frequently drawn lottery numbersLeast frequently drawn lottery numbers
23 (282 times) 13 (215 times)
40 (279 times) 20 (215 times)
33 (277 times) 16 (223 times)
38 (275 times) 21 (228 times)
44 (274 times) 37 (230 times)
30 (274 times) 41 (232 times)

As can be seen from the table above, while there isn’t really any patterns which indicate a particular range (higher/lower) of numbers were the most or least frequently drawn, there is actually quite a substantial difference in relation to the amount of times each set were drawn.

For the least frequently drawn, the range was in the lower half of the 200-300 percentile with this figure being 17 while those that were more frequently drawn were in the higher half (actually the top quarter), with only a range of 8 despite the draws being completely random. So, all in all, there is quite a substantial difference with this variable.

59-Ball Lottery

On 10th October 2015, the traditional lottery format of using 49 balls changed to include 59 balls in a draw which gave people more options.

Table of frequency for numbers drawn since the introduction of 59 balls (October 2015) Period of analysis: 10/10/2015 - 12/09/2020

NoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNox
1 x47 2 x55 3 x48 4 x53 5 x51 6 x42 7 x52 8 x65
9 x43 10 x53 11 x60 12 x44 13 x45 14 x56 15 x44 16 x50
17 x49 18 x48 19 x57 20 x55 21 x43 22 x52 23 x54 24 x42
25 x53 26 x53 27 x55 28 x42 29 x55 30 49 31 x56 32 x55
33 x42 34 x55 35 x56 36 x57 37 x57 38 x54 39 x54 40 x59
41 x57 42 x63 43 x51 44 x47 45 x59 46 x55 47 x56 48 x41
49 x48 50 x44 51 x53 52 x66 53 x46 54 x65 55 x61 56 x53
57 x46 58 x66 59 x53 - - - - - - - - - -

*Data from the National Lottery

As can be seen from the table above, which covers exactly 515 draws, there is an interesting distribution frequency of numbers. Interestingly there are close groupings in terms of the amount of times that each number has been drawn, with a range between 42 and 66.

It is also perhaps curious (despite all draws being random) that the highest amount of times that a number has been drawn being one of the highest numbers available (58 = 66), while the lowest (6 = 42), is one of the lowest, while 24 which still in the bottom half of the range being drawn the same number of times (this is also a multiple of 6).

Most And Least Common Numbers - 59 Ball Lottery

Most frequently drawn lottery numbersLeast frequently drawn lottery numbers
58 (66 times) 48 (41 times)
52 (66 times) 6 (42 times)
54 (65 times) 24 (42 times)
8 (65 times) 28 (42 times)
42 (63 times) 33 (42 times)
55 (61 times) 9 (43 times)

The table above paints a very interesting picture; particularly if you are in any way superstitious. For the most frequently drawn lottery numbers all of them apart from one are in the higher range (and have also been drawn a similar amount of times, with a range of just five - 61 to 66). 

For the least frequently drawn numbers, again with the exception of one which could be considered to be in the higher range (48), they are all in the lower half, perhaps you could count 33 as being just in the upper bracket as well. What is arguably so interesting is that the least frequently drawn numbers have an even smaller range of being drawn than the higher bracket, with a range of just two (41-43).

Euromillions

euromillions

When the Euromillions was created, this caused particular excitement among many traditional lottery enthusiasts, mainly because of the sheer increase in potential prize money, which has over the years reached into the hundreds of millions when you factor in rollovers (when the grand prize is not won, this increases every week). It was easy to forget for many people though, that this covers Europe, which means that there are many more people who take part in it.

This also had less numbers than the updated version of the National Lottery, while there was another novel feature - lucky stars which ranged from between one and 12. You of course need both lucky stars to win the grand jackpot, while even one of these plus three other numbers can make a substantial difference in terms of the prize money that you can win.

Table of frequency for numbers drawn since the introduction of the Euromillions (September 2016) Period of analysis: 27/09/2016 - 15/09/2020

NoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNox
1 x46 2 x39 3 x46 4 x41 5 x45 6 x35 7 x42 8 x43
9 x45 10 x44 11 x42 12 x43 13 x36 14 x41 15 x50 16 x37
17 x53 18 x30 19 x43 20 x54 21 x41 22 x34 23 x54 24 x37
25 x39 26 x41 27 x53 28 x37 29 x42 30 x43 31 x44 32 x43
33 x33 34 x39 35 x33 36 x33 37 x40 38 x39 39 x51 40 x28
41 x40 42 x47 43 x43 44 x46 45 x42 46 x42 47 x36 48 x43
49 x38 50 x39 - - - - - - - - - - - -
#1 x57 #2 x89 #3 x78 #4 x76 #5 x62 #6 x74 #7 x62 #8 x72
#9 x67 #10 x58 #11 x68 #12 x67 - - - - - - - -

*Data from the National Lottery, # Lucky Stars

The table above, compared to the one from the National Lottery shows that the number frequency is a lot more evenly distributed and that really, there are no particular correlations or patterns even that can be identified. Perhaps the only issue of note for the time period analysed, is that there are two pairs of consecutive numbers (35 and 36 as well as 45 and 46) which were drawn the same number of times (35 and 36 drawn 33 times, while 45 and 46 were drawn 42 times).

Furthermore, it is also curious to note that the amount of times that the lower pair were drawn had a value of three less than the higher number of the pair, while the amount of times that the higher pair were drawn had a value of four less than the higher number of the pair. It is not surprising though, to see that the lucky stars frequency totals were considerably higher than the principal numbers in the draw, due to there being less of them.

Most And Least Common Numbers - Euromillions

Most frequently drawn Euromillions numbersLeast frequently drawn Euromillions numbers
23 (54 times) 40 (28 times)
20 (54 times) 18 (30 times)
27 (53 times) 33 (33 times)
17 (53 times) 35 (33 times)
39 (51 times) 36 (33 times)
#2 (89 times) #1 (57 times)
#3 (78 times) #10 (58 times)

# Lucky Stars

As with the most and least drawn numbers for the National Lottery, you can clearly see (discounting the lucky stars) that the range groupings for the frequencies are particularly close together. For the most drawn numbers, the difference is just three (51 to 54), while for the least drawn numbers the difference is five (28 to 33).

Thunderball

thunderballAlongside the National Lottery, the Thunderball provided an alternative for people looking to increase their chances of winning an albeit, much smaller jackpot compared to that of the traditional lotto, though it worked in the same way. Indeed, this draw was also televised immediately after the lottery draw on the same show.

Televising this was actually a good way to help raise awareness and gather more players, however, it has always been considered the ‘little brother’ in lotto circles. Originally, this had a possible 34 numbers plus bonus balls, before increasing to 39 in 2010.

Table of frequency for numbers drawn since the introduction of 39 ball Thunderball (May 2010) Period of analysis: 09/05/2010 - 16/09/2020

NoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNoxNox
1 x220 2 x219 3 x223 4 x243 5 x212 6 x240 7 x226 8 x216
9 x219 10 x237 11 x200 12 x202 13 x220 14 x202 15 x230 16 x238
17 x224 18 x238 19 x233 20 x242 21 x241 22 x231 23 x228 24 x224
25 x214 26 x233 27 x228 28 x221 29 x252 30 x249 31 x240 32 x240
33 x219 34 x238 35 x198 36 x209 37 x206 38 x219 39 x221 - -
#1 x126 #2 x117 #3 x147 #4 x129 #5 x127 #6 x115 #7 x118 #8 x138
#9 x100 #10 x124 #11 x127 #12 x127 #13 x135 #14 x129 - - - -

*Data from the National Lottery, #Bonus Balls

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that compared to the National Lottery and Euromillions, this is an analysis of considerably more draws, which may suggest why the frequency distribution of numbers drawn is a lot more compact and as such time plays a particular factor, with this averaging out over time. While it is completely random, just like the flip of a coin, if you did this 100 times, probability dictates that you would get a distribution that is around 50/50 for heads and tails.

That however does not mean that this will be even at every stage (five heads and five tails after 10 spins). This is a good example to use when thinking about the frequency of lottery numbers drawn and while the law of probability is not an exact science, it does at least have some basis.

Most And Least Common Numbers - Thunderball

Most frequently drawn Thunderball numbersLeast frequently drawn Thunderball numbers
29 (252 times) 35 (198 times)
30 (249 times) 11 (200 times)
4 (243 times) 12 (202 times)
20 (242 times) 14 (202 times)
21 (241 times) 37 (206 times)
#3 (147 times) #9 (100 times)

# Bonus Balls

There is not arguably too much of a gap in terms of frequency for these numbers in terms of range, though understandably, the most frequently drawn numbers do have a higher value from the perspective of the amount of times that they were drawn.

13 - Truth Behind The Superstition?

number 13 drawn in lottery gameOne interesting observation that can be made from each of these analyses touches upon a widely held belief that the number ‘13’ is unlucky and when you pinpoint this in each of the tables, you will see that it is consistently near the bottom in terms of the amount of times that it has been drawn. Interestingly, the only draw, from which you can apply the most reasoned logic to this, is in the original 49 ball draw, with the number 13 appearing, the joint lowest number of times (215).

The reason why this arguably carries weight, is because there were considerably more draws (over 2000), which is a very representative volume to take a conclusion from and this is also backed up by the fact that all of the other numbers (in terms of frequency) are not that far apart either in the grand scheme of things.

Regardless or not of whether people choose this are also discounting the law of probability, you cannot argue with statistics. Coincidence? That is not for us to decide, though it is certainly an illuminating trend throughout the analysis of the three draws.

Why Is The Number 13 Perceived As Unlucky?

lamb with number 13For some, this number actually might be lucky based on their life events, such as wearing that shirt number for a sports team and performing well, or having a particularly good flight on that date or a very successful operation, however, there are historical events surrounding that number which has given credence to this being perceived as unlucky. Below are just a few to add some illustration!

  • There were 13 apostles (disciples) at the Last Supper and Judas was the 13th who ended up betraying Jesus.
  • The King of France arrested and then executed the Knights of the Last Templar on 13th October, 1307.
  • In Asia on August 13th and November 13th in 1970 record breaking monsoons killed over one million people in Bangladesh and India.
  • On Friday the 13th, October 1972 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes Mountains, which inspired the idea for the film Alive which was released in 1993.
  • Apollo 13 was the only unsuccessful mission to the moon on April 11th, 1970. This mission was met by many different disastrous events when an oxygen tank exploded. All astronauts did manage to escape and survive though.

While these events provide some light illustration around the number 13, they should not however in any way really influence your choice of whether to pick 13 as a lottery number or not, if you do choose to do future draws manually. Afterall, there will be plenty of other numbers which are likely to have just as much unlucky significance, though it seems the number 13 has stayed in everyone’s consciousness due to the impact that the above events had and as such have been widely publicised around the world.

Conclusion

When it comes to lottery draws, it is always worth remembering that they are completely random, regardless of the figures that have been posted to date. This means that, while you could choose them yourself, you could be just as successful letting a machine try and beat another machine and ask for a ‘lucky dip’ which prints a ticket with random numbers, or select ‘choose at random’ if you are playing online.

Perhaps the one take away from this that you could almost definitely apply, is that you might want to avoid the number 13 if you are selecting numbers yourself, though as the saying goes it is, afterall, “a lottery”!