North Carolina Lottery players won $9.5 million last week when the Carolina Pick-3 Plus Fireball drawings produced the combinations 1-1-1 and 2-2-2.
The “trips” combination of 1-1-1 had 11,081 winners Thursday night, netting winners $4.5 million in prizes. On Friday night, 2-2-2 produced 12,071 winners and $4.9 million in prizes.
The North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL) said the “combinations of three of the same numbers, known as ‘trips,’ are some of the most popular sets of numbers played. Whatever three numbers you pick, the odds of matching exactly all three in a Pick 3 drawing are the same: 1 in 1,000.”
The odds don’t tell the whole story
The North Carolina Lottery has three in-state draw games where players choose three, four or five numbers. They function in similar ways.
Carolina Pick 3 allows players to choose three numbers 0-9 or take a quick pick card. The prizes for getting the three numbers in the exact order are $250 for a 50-cent bet or $500 for a $1 bet.
Number selection can range from the deeply personal (badge number, birthday, anniversary) to the completely impersonal (computer-generated quick pick). Draw databases aid in this decision-making process by letting players see the historical data and glean some possible trends.
The North Carolina Lottery’s Pick Three draw database, for example, gives a good reminder of how the 1:1,000 odds don’t tell the whole story.
As the comment feed on the NCEL news blog indicates, players have been following the historical data and biding their time. Ronald T. commented, “I knew the twos were coming! I hit five times!”
Whether they “were coming” or not, triple-1 and triple-2 have been a couple of the hottest trips combos in Carolina Pick 3.
Not everyone held onto the dream long enough for the win, however. Angela A. dropped off a day too soon. “Oh well did not keep the faith. I played this for 5 days and had to drop it off my list.”
While trip 1 and 2 players came up winners last week, other trips players have been waiting, seemingly, in vain. Steve B., a trips-7 player, commented, “Meanwhile players are losing so much money because 777 hasn’t dropped in over 4 years!”
May 9, 2019, to be exact. That’s four years, 13 days and counting for not-so-lucky No. 7 players.
A closer look at the historical data
NCEL commenters decrying the inconsistency of the triple combos have a point. Not all trips have been created equal since the Carolina Pick 3 game started in October 2006.
In the past four years, triple-1 has been the hottest triple, hitting six times, including a two-week stretch in 2021 when it hit three times. Triple-2 has hit three times since 2021, including twice in a little more than seven weeks. The last time both hit was April 2021, when they hit just over two weeks apart.
In total, triple-1 has hit 15 times. Along with triple-3, that’s the highest-frequency triple.
Triple-2 has hit 12 times, the fourth-highest frequency behind triple-5 (14 times) and triple-4 (13 times).
At the other end, triple-6 and triple-9 have hit the fewest number of times: eight.
In terms of droughts, triple-7 is not alone in its four-year drought. Triple-0 also had a four-year drought from 2008-2012. The longest drought on record, though – four years, 324 days – occurred from March 1, 2017, to Jan. 19, 2022, for triple-9.
Trips players leaning on the ones and twos have done well in both of the Carolinas this year. On two consecutive April days in South Carolina, the exact Pick 3 Plus Fireball game saw triple-1 hit followed by triple-2.
Despite some impressive runs recently, the odds that we’ll see another two-day stretch where two sets of trips come are pretty slim: 1:1,000,000.