Hitting the Lottery
RAY: This is from my Games of Chance series and it was sent to us by Frank Durizi.
Lotteries, and the people who play them, are an interesting study. There are lots of players who are superstitious and won't ever consider playing the number thirteen. And there are others who insist on playing the number thirteen all the time. Lots of people, for example, play their kids' birthdays. Some strategists will play only numbers over 31, hoping to share with as few others as possible if and when they win, right--because there's no birthdays beyond the 31st of a month. Some people play every week and my friend Giovanni is no exception.
Now, Giovanni lives in Italy, and he plays the lotto every week, and the lotto in Italy is similar to any other. It has sixty numbers, and you must pick five to win. Five out of sixty. Not really good odds but that's what it is.
Anyway, I'm out one day with Giovanni driving around in his car and he's listening to his favorite radio station, mostly because he likes the music but also because the station will broadcast the winning numbers. Not live from the lottery headquarters or anything like that, but whenever they have a minute or two between songs or when they remember to do it, they'll announce the numbers.
Anyway, here we are driving along and the announcer begins to read the winning numbers. After the first winning number is announced, Giovanni begins screaming, blowing his horn, shouting out, "Ho vinto, ho vinto, I won, I won!" and weaving in and out of traffic, and he hadn't even heard the other four numbers.
The question is: Why doesn't he need to hear the other numbers to be read? How does he know that he won? He's heard one number, and he's won the lottery.
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[ Car Talk Puzzler ]