Identical lottery draw was coincidence

SOFIA Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:25pm EDT

An official prepares lottery balls at the Bulgarian Sports Totalizer building in Sofia, February 27, 2005. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

An official prepares lottery balls at the Bulgarian Sports Totalizer building in Sofia, February 27, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

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SOFIA (Reuters) - The draw of the same six winning numbers twice in a row in Bulgaria's national lottery was a freak coincidence, officials said Thursday.

Sports Minister Svilen Neikov ordered an investigation after the numbers 4, 15, 23, 24, 35 and 42 were selected, in a different order, by a machine live on television on September 6 and 10. The results caused suspicions of manipulation.

An investigation found no wrongdoing in the draw or determining the winners, its chairman Konstantin Simeonov said.

"We cannot talk about any manipulation," he said.

The chance of the same six numbers coming up twice in two consecutive rounds was one in more than 4 million but was not impossible, respected mathematician Michail Konstantinov has said.

An unprecedented 18 people guessed all six numbers when they were drawn the second time and each got 10,164 levs ($7,700). Nobody won the top prize the first time.

The lottery organizers say it is impossible to tamper with the lottery machine. The draws take place in the presence of a special committee and is broadcast live on national television which guarantee no cheating, they say.

"This is happening for the first time in the 52-year history of the lottery. We are absolutely stunned to see such a freak coincidence but it did happen," a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Anna Mudeva)

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