For the first time ever, the winning numbers in both the Maryland and D.C. lotteries were triple combinations, and, a Georgetown University mathematician said, the odds are against it happening again before the year 2015.
Wednesday's winning number in the District -- 222 -- will pay a total of $786,000 to 1,572 ticket holders, the biggest payoff in the three-digit game since the lottery was created in 1983, said a spokesman for D.C. Maryland's 16,957 winners -- who played the number 444 -- will get a total of $4,239,000.
The odds of a triple combination coming up in either lottery are 100 to 1; but the odds of getting triples in both places on the same day are 10,000 to 1, according to Georgetown Professor James Sandefur.
"The odds are this won't happen again for 30 years," said Sandefur. "If you said, 'Today's numbers will be 222 and 444,' the odds of that happening in two places on the same day would be 1,000,000 to 1."
Officials for both lotteries say they will pay out more than three times what they took in.
Lottery tickets cost 50 cents in Maryland and $1 in the District and pay at 500-to-1 odds. Winning tickets in the District pay $500 and $250 in Maryland.
Triple combinations have come up only 22 times since the Maryland lottery began in 1976, said spokesman Carlton Dotson. The 444 combination has come up three times, and Wednesday's combination ranks eighth on the list of top three-digit payoffs.
Spokeswoman Sylvia McMorris said D.C. lottery officials can't account for why so many players picked the winning 222 combination or for why triples are the most frequently played numbers.
"There is a lot of superstition involved and players usually use the same three numbers all the time . . . ," she said.
Until Wednesday, the biggest payoff in the three-digit D.C. lottery history was $754,975 on Jan. 12. The winning number? Another triple -- 000.