Lottery Leap Year Players Expected To Flock To Feb. 29 (2-2-9) Pick 3 Number

For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Lang 217-524-5158

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Feb. 28, 2012—The Lottery’s Pick 3 game is a game for which the vast majority of players select their own numbers, many of which are date-based. For any given Pick 3 drawing, popular player numbers include numerous “triples” (1-1-1, 2-2-2, 3-3-3,), perennial favorites like 7-1-1 and 1-2-3, and—very often—the 3-digit number that corresponds to the drawing date (2-2-8 for Feb 28).

The Lottery expects 2-2-9, which corresponds to Feb. 29, will be popular with Pick 3 players tomorrow, when the once-every-four-years Leap Year drawings are held. If 2-2-9 is selected in tomorrow’s midday or evening Pick 3 drawings, 2-2-9 players will collectively pocket close to 150 percent of the total amount wagered on all Pick 3 number combinations for that particular drawing.

“Just think, for some people their date-based favorite number happens every four years,” said Lottery Supt. Michael Jones, “so Leap Year is very special to them. Good luck to everyone tomorrow!”

On the last Leap Year day, Feb. 29, 2008, the number 2-2-8 was selected for the midday Pick 3 drawing; while not the most popular number selected that day, 2-2-8 did pay close to 150 percent of what players wagered on all Pick 3 combinations for that drawing. The Pick 3 and Pick 4 games are guaranteed payout games, with a prize of $500 guaranteed to Pick 3 players who wager $1 that their 3-digit number will be selected in exact (or straight) order. Similarly, Pick 4 players are guaranteed a $5,000 prize if their $1 straight wager hits.

Sometimes events occur that result in huge demand for a particular Pick 3 or Pick 4 number. When Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls, following his professional baseball hiatus, the combination of his old and new Bulls jersey numbers (23 and 45, or 2-3-4-5) was a popular Pick 4 selection. 2-3-4-5 paid out a total of $1.8 million to Pick 4 players on Nov. 3, 1995, the opening night of the Bulls 1995-96 season (they won the game that evening, with Jordan scoring a game-high 42 points).

Over 95 percent of players select their own numbers in Pick 3 and Pick 4; for games like Powerball and Mega Millions, only about 33 percent of players select their own numbers. All lottery terminal games offer an easy-play, “Quick Pick” option, where the numbers are computer-selected. Pick 3 sales totaled $291 million during the most recent fiscal year, marking Pick 3 as the Lottery’s top-selling terminal game. Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings are held twice a day, every day. Ticket prices for Pick 3 and Pick 4 start at only 50 cents.

Because Pick 3 and Pick 4 are guaranteed-prize games, for every drawing there are a finite number of available plays for any given 3- or 4-digit number. Numbers will become unavailable after prize liability maximums are reached for a single drawing ($16 million liability for both Pick 3 and Pick 4). Limiting the state’s liability by “shutting off” sales for certain numbers is standard practice within the lottery industry, so players who want to be sure to have a ticket for a certain Pick 3 or Pick 4 number should buy their tickets early.

Having an extra day during leap years not only gives Lottery players an extra day to play, but generates substantial revenue for good causes. Feb. 29, 2008, saw total Lottery sales of $7.55 million (all games), netting nearly $2.3 million in profit for good causes. Feb. 29, 2012, is expected to generate as much or more in total lottery sales/profits.


About Illinois Lottery

Founded in 1974, the Illinois Lottery has contributed over $20 billion to the state’s Common School Fund to assist K-12 public schools, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars to the Capital Projects Fund and to special causes like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to playing in-store, the Illinois Lottery offers online and mobile play for Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto at Players must be at least 18 years old.