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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2020 State of Ohio Pappy & Buffalo Trace Debrief

With the 2020 State of Ohio Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Lottery winners announced, I want to do a quick debrief. I reached out to the State to ask how many entries they had for each lottery and was told that all-in, they received 99,836 entries overall. The breakout to each lottery was 98,923 entries for the Pappy lottery and 94,608 for the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. This puts the final odds of winning at 0.0036% for the Pappy (around 1 in 300) and .0052% for Buffalo Trace (around 1 in 200). 

Next, let's look at how these numbers compare to past lotteries done by the State... As you can see in the chart below, these are the worst odds so far of any Pappy or Buffalo Trace Holiday lottery due to the increase in entries and the decrease in Pappy bottles. 

A new wrinkle in the 2020 results is that there were 5 people who won in both lotteries defying some crazy odds. The Columbus Dispatch said the odds of this happening were around 4%, but that sure doesn't sound right and I've seen lots of forum posts calling into question the integrity of the lottery. I'm going to side with random events happen randomly so it certainly is within the realm of possibility. I just hate that I wasn't one of the 5 who won both. 

The final number of bottles available were:

Pappy Van Winkle:
10 Year - 202 bottles
12 Year - 123
15 Year - 49
20 Year - 4
23 Year - 2

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection: 
George T. Stagg - 146 bottles 
Thomas H. Handy - 146
William Larue Weller - 94
Eagle Rare 17 - 71
Sazerac Rye 18 - 36

If you were a winner or one of the five double winners, congratulations. If you're one of the 98k who didn't win like me, we'll get em next year! 


  1. Hello. Fellow Columbus resident here. Just want to say thank you for posting. I read your posts and appreciate the time you take to pass along the info and offer your thoughts/opinions.

  2. The story of the multi-lottery winners has been nagging at me since published by the Dispatch. Some simple logic exercises show that it's highly improbable:

    - If chance of an individual winning one lottery is less than 1%, then the chance of same individual winning two lotteries in a row is much, much smaller. It can't "rise" to 4%.

    - Using a pair of six-sided dice as an example, if rolling a "1" represents a win, the odds of winning once is 1/6, but twice in a row is 1/36. Odds are infinitesimally smaller in the bottle lottery but same principle applies.

    - The odds of 5 people "beating the odds" is further unlikely.

    - The odds having several multi-lottery winners for several past lotteries (back from 2018) is even further unlikely.

    Not suggesting that there is intentional foul play, but these improbabilities point to a flaw somewhere within either the randomizing or winner assignment. Regardless, it erodes trust in the process until it is addressed.

  3. Thanks for the break down. It's interesting to see what kind of odds we were working with. I certainly think the Dispatch messed up on the percentage.