South African Lottery Accused of Fraud

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. in succession / ɪn səkˈsɛʃ ən / (idiom) – following one after the other

    The company lost two managers in quick succession.

  2. coincidence / koʊˈɪn sɪ dəns / (n) – a situation in which events that have some connection happen at the same time by accident

    Alex and Debby wore the same shirt to the meeting, but they say it was just a coincidence, not something that they had planned.

  3. rigged / rɪgd / (adj) – manipulated or controlled to get a desired result

    Some people claim that the elections were rigged.

  4. probe / proʊb / (n) – an investigation of something

    The police opened a probe into the group’s suspected illegal activities.

  5. unprecedented / ʌnˈprɛs ɪˌdɛn tɪd / (adj) – never done or experienced before

    The Category 5 hurricane caused unprecedented damage.


Read the text below.

The South African National Lotteries Commission (NLC) was accused of fraud after an unusual sequence of numbers was drawn for the jackpot.

The numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were drawn in succession for the PowerBall lottery. Twenty players hit the jackpot and won more than $300,000 each, while another 79 winners received more than $300 a piece for getting the sequence of the first five numbers correct.

The coincidence of drawing such an uncommon sequence and having 20 people win drew public scrutiny. Many South Africans took to social media, alleging that the results were rigged.

Due to the allegations, the NLC opened a probe to investigate the results, but the commission found no evidence of fraud. A representative for the lottery operator said that the results could not have been rigged because they use an automated system that generates random numbers. He further defended that the system is verified and used worldwide.

The odds of winning South Africa’s PowerBall lottery are approximately one in 42 million, and the chances of drawing the 6-number sequence are the same as other combinations. The NLC admitted, however, that the combination was unprecedented. Regardless, the commission reminded players that the combination is not impossible despite the odds. They added that some people do choose the sequence when picking numbers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that the PowerBall lottery was not rigged? Why or why not?
• Would you consider playing the lottery? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think people choose to play the lottery even if the chances of winning are slim? Explain.
• What other activities do you think are worth trying even if the chances of winning are slim (e.g. auditioning for a TV show, participating in sports tournaments)? Discuss.