You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Play 4 champ: 568 winners in 15 months

The odds of winning the top prize in Florida’s Play 4 are one in 10,000, the same as your chances of ever being struck by lightning in the U.S.

So how did one person win it 568 times, collecting more than $2.8 million — in just 15 months?

The Palm Beach Post caught up with the man who has won more big lottery tickets than any person in the history of the Florida Lottery. He’s a bookish Hollywood engineer who talked about his wins on the condition that his name not be used.

He chalked up his status as the winningest Play 4 player in the past 20 years as simply dumb luck.

“It’s a fluke,” he shrugged. “I tell everybody to follow through with their numbers.”

On its surface, he might seem like the luckiest player in the state. But here’s his secret: He just bet a lot more than most people do.

He’s different from the lottery’s most prolific winners, who were measured by how often they cashed in tickets. Those winners, most of whom were store clerks, cashed in tickets 65 or more times. They’ve won all kinds of games, and the tickets come from dozens of stores.

The Hollywood man, on the other hand, cashed in tickets only 14 times in the same period. He won at only two stores. And he’s only won one game: Play 4.

The game is simple: Bet $1 and pick four numbers between 0 and 9. If the next drawing picks your numbers in order, you win $5,000.

You can bet multiple times on the same number, of course, and that’s what the Hollywood man did. The secret to his success, he said, was playing the year of his birth, 1951. Variations on those four numbers hit six times between January 2011 and March 2013.

Two of those times, he bought 200 or more tickets. At $5,000 a win, he walked out of the district office with a $1 million check. Twice.

He also played 100 times on Nov. 11, 2012, on number 4077. That meant a $500,000 check.

And he hit about 50 times on number 6251 on Dec. 6, 2011. That was a $250,000 prize.

The Post found that his style of play is unusual. Nobody else wins that much. Only five people have cashed in 100 or more Play 4 tickets at a time, and the Hollywood man is the only person to cash in 200 or more tickets at a time.

There are two potential explanations for his wins: dumb luck or the lottery is fixed, and there’s no evidence it’s fixed.

Unlike the 10 most prolific winners identified by The Post, even a mathematician agrees that this gambler is different. Skip Garibaldi, a professor at Emory University and associate director of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA, calculated that the man could spend as little as $176,160 to have a one-in-a-million shot at winning so often.

That’s a long shot, but it’s still mathematically possible.

The man wouldn’t say how much he spent chasing his wins. He just sighed and said, “Too much.”

His amount of playing is taxing on the store clerks who have to fill his orders.

Hiral Patel, 28, has worked for two years at Tuzzo’s Circle News, on Hollywood Boulevard and Federal Highway.

He said the Hollywood man is a “nice guy” but plays so many tickets, it takes up to 10 minutes just to print them.

“It’s because of him that I’ve got two machines. I’ve got 10 customers waiting (while the Hollywood man’s tickets are printed),” he said. “I told my boss, ‘We need another machine.’”

In true gambler’s fashion, he’ll tip the store clerk when he wins. And like many gamblers, he asked to keep his name out of the news because he fears being targeted for his winnings.

The man said he’s always been fascinated by numbers, and 20 years ago a psychic told him, “I can’t tell you what, but something big is going to happen.”

That “big” thing was winning more big tickets than any person in the history of the Florida Lottery, apparently. He’s grateful she never told told him his fate.

“If she told me I was going to win, I would have played more money and probably gone broke.”

He said he actually stopped playing after his first $1 million win, on Feb. 4, 2013.

But then he realized that the same day of the week of that win fell exactly a month later, on March 4.

It was like an anniversary for his big win, he believed, so he decided to resume his playing that day.

He put down another $200 on the same number, 1951. Incredibly, it hit.

He hasn’t stopped playing since.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Ellen DeGeneres calls out audience member for dishonesty
Ellen DeGeneres calls out audience member for dishonesty

Ellen DeGeneres tested the honesty of her audience in a recent show, and most of them passed. The one woman who didn’t was embarrassed with a reprimand on national television. >> Read more trending news  With “Ellen” in its 14th season, DeGeneres gave her audience members the chance to choose one item from the Ellen...
Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan
Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan

A federal judge granted a 14-day stay of removal Thursday, blocking the deportation  of more than 100 Iraqis living in Michigan, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The temporary stay allows any of the men and women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to appear before an immigration judge and make their case for...
Dalia Dippolito lawyers say sleeping juror requires new trial
Dalia Dippolito lawyers say sleeping juror requires new trial

Allegations that a sleeping juror was on the panel that convicted Dalia Dippolito could be the basis for yet a fourth trial on charges that she tried to have her husband killed. Defense attorneys for Dippolito, 34, on Thursday filed a motion for a new trial and a request to interview jurors in Dippolito’s case based on claims that one of the...
‘Baby Driver’ cast talks heart-pounding, toe-tapping summer action flick
‘Baby Driver’ cast talks heart-pounding, toe-tapping summer action flick

Actor Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx star in the summer’s most anticipated action movie, and it’s equal parts heart-pounding thrills and toe-tapping musical. Car crashes, romance and a musical backdrop make “Baby Driver” a genre-bending adrenaline kick from writer/director Edgar Wright. “We had a very good blueprint...
NEW: Palm Springs girl drowns in Palm Beach pool
NEW: Palm Springs girl drowns in Palm Beach pool

A 1-year-old Palm Springs girl is dead after she was pulled from a pool in Palm Beach Wednesday evening, according to town police. Palm Beach Fire Rescue crews were called at 5:04 p.m. to a possible drowning at 201 Sanford Ave., just west of North County Road. When they arrived, first responders found a 1-year-old receiving CPR, according to Division...
More Stories