Factors in Favor of Joan Ginther

Joan Ginther
Saturday June 15, 2019 04:47 am

The Lottery Lab Staff

Some say Joan Ginther was a professional gambler, others say she was addicted. She might have had luck in her favor or just good with the odds. Some say she had a partner in winning prizes. Joan wasn’t the only woman from Bishop to claim a remarkable number of prizes. Anna Morales, working in the local water department also filed claims for about 23 prizes worth $1,000 to $10,000 from the year 2002 to 2012. Their claim dates suggest that they were in sync if not working together. Some of the facts which raise suspicions that she wasn’t alone in this are-

  1. On Jan 23, 2009, Anna claimed a prize for her first $1,000 win from a $20 game. On the same day, Joan claimed $2,000 in Millions & Millions lottery.
  2. On Feb 12, Anna claimed another $1,000 prize in $50 Million Club and Joan claimed another $2,000 in Millions & Millions lottery.
  3. On May 1, all claimed the same prize for the same lottery game.
  4. Eight times to be precise, they claimed the prizes on the same day in the same lottery office, the one in Corpus Christi.

But the study conducted by lottery experts show some factors which played a vital role in the big wins of Joan Ginther:

Factor 1: Money to Burn

Thanks to her annuity from her 1993 lottery win, Ginther was getting $270,000 every July through 2012. A major problem that any lottery player faces is that they can only by a limited number of tickets. But with her annuity, Ginther didn’t have that problem. In fact, she didn’t even need a strategy for finding big cash prizes. She had money to burn.  She was financially stable with an annuity that made it possible for her to place sizable bets every year with little real risk.

Factor 2: A Generous State

During the time that Joan Ginther was playing her scratch-offs, Texas was growing the size of its prizes. For instance, in 2002, Texas’ highest prize was $1 million for a $20 ticket.  By 2003, they were giving away a cash prize of $2 million for the same ticket. Basically, Texas was creating an ever more appealing game and Joan was playing them. Texas kept sweetening the formula and Joan kept placing bigger bets!

Factor 3: Guaranteed Prize Money

Most scratch-off tickets offer a wide array of small prizes.  This is particularly true of high-dollar games.  To make a player comfortable buying a $50 ticket, the lottery commission knows that the player has to win something even if it is just $10.  At the time that Joan Ginther was playing, Texas scratch offs had a remarkable pay-back rate of 66.9% (excluding the top three prizes!).  If a player bought one thousand $25 lottery tickets, they could reasonably expect to win $16,725.  And the more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to average out to the pay-back rate. Considering this, it was likely a significant favor in Joan Ginther’s legendary lottery journey.

Factor 4: Tax Break

Because of her 1993 win, Joan Ginther was receiving a sizable annuity payment.  Taking an annuity instead of a lump sum payment helps dodge heavy tax payments but there can still be serious taxes to pay. One way that winners can offset their tax burden is by posting gambling losses.  There are a number of schemes that gamblers can use to prove their losses, but Joan Ginther might have just been using the easiest of these techniques: she was buying high-dollar tickets to show gambling losses.  

Taking all of this into consideration, it is likely that Joan Ginther wasn’t actually “playing the lottery”.  She was playing a different game.  She was simply combining the tax benefits of gambling losses with a very high pay-back rate to keep herself in the game long enough to find winning tickets.