The Winning Numbers are ones that a lottery player must match with their own selections in order to win a prize. Winning numbers are drawn in a completely random way. How's that for a statement of the obvious? But you'd be amazed how often they are misinterpreted.
The quantity of winning numbers that a lottery player is required to match depends on the lottery game itself and the prize levels of that lottery. For example, if you are playing the Lotto game in the United Kingdom, six main winning numbers and one supplementary “bonus” number are drawn by the lottery machine. Players select six numbers and these must match the six winning numbers in order for them to win the jackpot prize. If they want to win the second-tier prize they must match five of the main numbers and the bonus number, and so on.
Yet there still remains confusion over the bonus ball. Is this a winning number or not? Well, it is and it isn't. It is a winning number if, and ONLY IF, you have already matched five numbers. If you've matched just two, three or four it is irrelevant. For clarity, you do not win £10 for matching two winning numbers plus the bonus ball (three numbers in many people's opinion).
In almost all lottery games, the more numbers a player matches, the greater the value of the prize they will win (see Lottery odds) though it has to be said that some lotteries (known as jackpot-only games) only pay out a single top prize to players who successfully match all of the winning numbers.
Lottery players are responsible for checking their own numbers against the winning numbers drawn, and must make a claim for any prize within a certain number of days. In many countries the tickets are valid for 180 days from the day of the draw, though this does vary so you should check the rules of the lottery you choose to play.
It is important that both the balls themselves and the lottery machines used to select winning numbers are engineered to the highest standard so that every number has exactly the same chance of being drawn. Experts examine the balls, machines and draw conditions to ensure that numbers are selected entirely randomly, and are not affected by mechanical flaws or any kind of human intervention.