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Lost Winnings

Last week, two very lucky people won the Mega Millions lottery jackpot (here‘s a profile on one of the winners). This particular lottery is played in 41 out of the 50 states, and these two individuals will share a combined, pre-tax total of $380 million.

But are they so lucky after all? Setting aside the common notion that winning the lottery can actually do you more harm than good, some people are concerned because of the numbers themselves that made the winning ticket.

The numbers drawn for this particular lottery were 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and 42. Note that the last number is lower than the number that precedes it because it is the so-called “Mega Number,” which is drawn from a different pool than the first five. For those of you with a penchant for televised dramas set in tropical locations, you may note that these numbers bear . . . → Read More: Lost Winnings

Would You Like Math With That?

Last week, my friend Jon forwarded me this article posted on CNN’s Eatocracy blog. In it, writer Laurie Segall describes the number of possible burger combinations at a restaurant in New York City called 4food. Using some elementary combinatorics and the brain power of her statistician husband, together they calculated that the number of possible burgers one could order at 4food is 1,598,238,720. This is assuming that one follows the rules of the restaurant; if you want the option of including all 12 condiments on your burger, rather than sticking to the suggested limit of 0-3, and similarly for the cheese options, the number of combinations jumps to 96,639,764,160 (roughly a 60-fold increase).

This reminded me of a similar calculation I had been meaning to do for the chain of hamburger restaurants called The Counter. Founded in Los Angeles in 2003, The Counter has since branched out across the country, . . . → Read More: Would You Like Math With That?