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The Love Lottery: The Odds of Finding True Love

Here I go again, I hear those trumpets blow again, All aglow again, Taking a chance on love… Here I slide again, About to take that ride again, Starry eyed again, Taking a chance on love

Taking a Chance on Love, Frank Sinatra

These lyrics were sung by Frank Sinatra, a man who defined love and luck, both in song and in his personal life, across several generations of music fans. In many ways, the quest to find true love or win a major jackpot are similar in that the pursuer is ‘taking a chance on…’ statistically rare yet entirely possible events.

As anyone acquainted with the world of online will testify, looking for love in the wrong places is the equivalent to trying to win the lottery without buying a ticket! Assuming that you are consistently looking for love in the right places, or looking to win the lottery and actually buying lottery tickets regularly, what are the odds of finding true love or winning a jackpot, and which is more likely?

We already saw some lottery mathematics in our recent blog: A Little Lottery Secret – The Systematic Form. We can use the same calculation (as we used to work out the number of lines in Lisa’s systematic form) to determine the odds of winning a classic 6/49 lottery. After plugging in all the elements of the formula, it turns out that the probability of winning a 6/49 jackpot is 1:13,983,816

And what about the odds of finding true love?

Of course, this all depends on your definition of true love. A hopeless romantic who believes that their one true soul mate is out there somewhere, is playing with odds of close to 1:7,000,000,000, assuming that it could be anyone on the planet but themselves.

A more realistic approach is given in How to Find a Spouse: A Problem in Discrete Mathematics with an Assist from Calculus. In this paper, the authors focus on finding the best possible match from a defined set of candidates and the best strategy to do so. They advise letting approximately 37% of the group pass you by (i.e. avoid marrying the girl next door or your high school sweetheart), and selecting the next candidate who is better than all those in this first group. Taking this path to finding love offers, according to love mathematics, roughly a 1:3 chance of finding your best match.

So, finding your soul mate is more difficult than winning a classic 6/49 lottery, which in turn is more difficult than finding your most suitable available mate, which has 37% success rate when approached correctly.

For those looking for similarly favourable odds, the Spanish National Lottery has come up with some of the world’s best lottery odds with a monthly raffle where 1 in 3 players are guaranteed to win a cash prize from an €84 million prize fund. Check out Loteria Nacional and this month’s Sorteo Extraordinario (Spanish for Super Draw)!

Whether it’s a win in love or lottery you want for this Valentine’s week, we wish you all the luck in the world in finding what you seek!

I walk around with a horseshoe, In clover I lie, And brother rabbit of course, You better kiss your foot goodbye… On that ball again, I’m riding for a fall again, I’m gonna give my all again, Taking a chance on love