The luckiest woman in Bormla might just be the luckiest woman in the world.
The 64-year-old lottery aficionado had her VAT receipts drawn among the monthly winners at least 13 times since January 2021.
Just last month, she won four times in a draw with 3 million receipts.
The odds of having your ticket chosen once would be 1 in 3 million, assuming you only had one ticket. A mathematician I consulted said the odds of that happening four times in a row are basically zero.
Of course, there’s no limit to the number of receipts you can send in for the draw, a measure designed to boost tax revenues by encouraging customers to ask for an official receipt rather than pay less under the table with cash.
This complicates things, but it doesn’t improve them.
“Let’s say the person had 1,000 tickets and an average ticket value is €10,” my mathematician friend said. “If the prize pool is €60,000 and each ticket drawn wins 100 times its value, then there will be around 60 tickets drawn. Based on Bernoulli’s formula, the probability will be around 0.000000005677 out of 1. In other words, a 0.0000005677% chance.”
That’s better than zero, but not by much.
Let’s be generous to our lucky winner and use 1 in 3 million for comparison.
You have a much better chance of dating a supermodel — 1 in 88,000 — than you do of replicating the Bormla winner’s feat. Of course, it helps if you’re ridiculously attractive and have good personal hygiene, which does rule a lot of people out.
Better look at something more achievable.
The odds of being born with 11 fingers or toes, a condition known as polydactyly, are 1 in 500. I’ve never met anyone like that, but if I wanted to, I’d look in Bormla.
The odds of being injured by a toilet are also shockingly high: 1 in 10,000 people will be lid-pinched, jabbed by a splinter, suffer from some sort of immersion, or dislocate a hip after a total bowl collapse.
While I haven’t read about an epidemic of nonfatal bathroom incidents in Malta, we can’t assume they aren’t occurring. Some accidents are best kept to oneself.
Thankfully, there are other long-odds occurrences we would end up hearing about. Your odds of winning an Oscar are 1 in 11,500, which means 45 people in Malta have probably already done so and weren’t informed about it. Clearly another case of big countries bullying a small country.
Of course, you’d have to actually be a contender, but your odds of becoming a movie star are still better than that Bormla woman’s odds of winning four times in a month: 1 in 190,00.
While I did play Robin Hood in my school’s 5th grade play, the only leading roles I’ve landed in the decades since have been dramas of my own invention.
Let’s focus on something we can all win at instead: reaping riches from the sea. No, I’m not suggesting you invest your savings in tuna laundering — not unless you know the Director General of the Fisheries and Agriculture Department. I’m talking about pearl necklaces.
Your odds of finding a pearl in an oyster are surprisingly high: 1 in 12,000. Sure, you’ll have to shuck, but not as hard as that lady in Bormla who had to send in her VAT receipts.
She had a better chance of being struck by lightning — 1 in 114,195 according to the US National Safety Council — than having her name drawn so many times in a row. I hope she’s wearing shoes with very thick rubber soles.
I suggest she also avoid novelty forms of transportation. The odds of being sent to the emergency room with a pogo stick-related injury are 1 in 115,300. Your odds of succumbing to those injuries are even higher given how difficult it is to manoeuvre an ambulance down Malta’s gridlocked roads.
If we stick with our generous 1 in 3 million chance comparison, just about the only thing our Bormla better is less likely to experience is canonization. Her odds of becoming a saint are 1 in 20 million.
Then again, Gozo construction magnate and devourer of ODZ land Joseph Portelli was transformed into St John the Evangelist at the Nadur feast through a simple application of filthy lucre.
This miracle happened just two months after he was transformed into a football star in the nick of time to score a game-winning goal for his hometown team.
It just goes to show you that anything at all is possible in Malta with a little cash and the right political connections.