A local radio station is announcing a contest with a grand prize of $25,000. It’s a multistage contest, with weekly winners qualifying for a chance at the big bucks.
At the end of the summer, the qualifiers gather on a certain date at a certain local park. It’s a must-be-present-to-win deal. All the qualifiers who are there get their names put in a drawing. One name is drawn.
Here comes the tricky part. The “winner” gets his or her shot at a box with 40 envelopes.
Five of the envelopes are marked $25,000.
Seventeen of the envelopes have a merchandise prize worth approx $900.
Eighteen of the envelopes have another merchandise prize worth approx $750.
Winner gets to draw envelopes until he or she gets five that match. They win that prize.
If it’s the $25,000, they get their check after “verification,” which takes 2-3 weeks.
If one of the two merchandise prizes shows up first , another name is drawn from those present, and that person gets the other merchandise prize.
So only the first person chosen has a chance at the 25 grand.
It seems as if the fewest envelopes that person could pick would be five (the first five were all the same), and the most a person could pick would be 13 (four of one kind, four of another kind and five of the third kind).
And that’s where my probability skills fall off the table.
I suspect that the odds are very long indeed, because the payoff is being handled through a third-party company, perhaps akin to those which sell a package offering a cash prize or a new car to someone who hits a hole-in-one at a charity golf tournament.
What’s the Straight Dope on this contest?