On your marks . . .

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The Independent Online
BONN - After 10 weeks without a winner, statisticians are confident that someone will now take away the super jackpot of 42 million Deutschmarks ( pounds 17.5m). Whether there was a winner in last night's prize draw should be known by tomorrow.

At least 40 million Germans, and thousands more from as far away as South America, have been waiting for more than two months to scoop Europe's richest lottery.

The winner needs to collect six numbers and an additional 'super number'. The odds of doing so have been placed at 140 million to 1: the odds are slightly better for picking just the six random numbers, which still brings prizes in the millions.

In terms of statistics, the absence of a winner to date is highly unlikely. According to Prof Lerche of Freiburg University, it was as if 'a casino roulette ball had ended up on the red or the black 14 times in a row'.

Number-crunchers expect not just one lucky winner but two and a half. But pessimists recall the last super jackpot of DM18m in 1988 - which was shared between 222 punters. - AFP