Dreams of a big lotto win served as tempting motivation for many players in 2020, when the nation’s prize pool topped more than $3.7 billion, and lucky victors came from every state and territory.
NSW and the ACT boasted 74 seven-figure winners, ahead of Victoria with 70.
Queensland had 51 big wins, Western Australia 42, and about once a fortnight someone either in South Australia, Tasmania or Northern Territory took out a million-dollar prize.
A couple in Dromana, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and a retiree on the NSW mid-north coast both joined the nation’s lottery elite with $80 million wins.
Both were achieved in separate draws of Powerball, where the chances of winning – one in 134,490,400 – are comparable to flipping a coin heads-up 27 times in a row.
All up, more than 500 people holding 484 tickets took out division one in 2020.
Their total collect of $1.24 billion was slightly down on the $1.3 billion dished out in 2019, when 436 tickets took out the top prize.
Across all games and divisions, Australians collected $3.71 billion in prizes and also helped top up government coffers by about $1.4 billion, through associated levies.
Looking for lucky numbers was even popular in one of the nation’s most affluent suburbs.
Three separate lotto outlets sell tickets at Mosman, on Sydney’s lower north shore where the median house price is $4.2 million and the average unit also carries a seven-figure price tag.
Whenever jackpots reach levels like OzLotto’s upcoming $30 million offering, the trickle of players buying tickets becomes a river.
“If it’s a big one, $20 million and up, they will start getting in,” newsagent Vaibhav Patel told AAP.
“If prizes are tempting, you sell more.”
Retiree Mary Ford plays every couple of weeks, sharing a Powerball ticket with her son or going it alone with her favourite, OzLotto.
“You’re always hoping to win the big one, and thinking what you’d do with it … buy the family houses and things like that,” she said.
But, having played since she lived in country NSW decades ago, she’s under no illusions about her odds or whether she’s ahead overall.
“The biggest prize I ever won was $370,” she said.
“That was years ago and I haven’t done that since.
“(Playing) is just a bit of fun.”
Mr Patel doesn’t find it peculiar that Mosman residents are just as willing to put down $20 for a tiny chance to win big.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or not, they want money,” he said.
In 2020, it wasn’t the richest suburbs collecting the major payouts.
Morley, eight kilometres from Perth’s CBD, and Cairns in Far North Queensland each had five division-one winners, sharing more than $8 million.
Four more millionaires were crowned in the outer western Melbourne suburb of Melton.
Despite the ease of QuickPicks and online entries, about one in three players still go to the trouble of choosing their own numbers.
That proportion rises to 41 per cent when it comes to Oz Lotto and there are numerous reasons for hand-picking the numbers.
“Favourite numbers, family birthdates, anniversaries and street numbers, all the way through to numbers that came to them in a dream and counting the number of chickens in the backyard,” The Lott’s Matt Hart told AAP.
The types of players are a mix too with regular players like Ms Ford contending with more whimsical folk like Sydney man Matthew.
“It was just a random thought of doing it, when I walked past the signs,” he told AAP after diverting from his normal path through Sydney’s Wynyard station to grab a ticket he now knows is called a QuickPick.
“(I last played) maybe a year ago,” he said.
“Like everyone, (I) would like to win, just on that off chance, that very slim chance.”