By Derek Baker, March 29, 2016 —
The annual Canadian tradition of Roll Up The Rim concluded on March 18. With the end of the incentivized caffeination spree, many people may be disillusioned by their lack of wins. However, it all comes down to probability.
This year, Tim Hortons stated that the odds of winning were about one in six. Despite these odds, you may feel that you’ve seen enough “PLEASE PLAY AGAIN / RÉESSAYEZ S.V.P.s” during the contest to consider yourself officially bilingual. You’ve likely purchased over 30 coffees just to win one free hot drink.
Meanwhile, your friend has bought only five coffees and won four free donuts. Have they sold their soul to the double-double devil? It’s possible, but unlikely.
In a feat of truly hard-hitting investigative journalism, as well as the first practical application of the countless hours spent in my statistics classes, the data was crunched — and the results are disappointing to those of us who thought Tim Hortons was trying to cheat us.
Out of 108 Tim Hortons drinks purchased by Gauntlet staff during this year’s contest — a disturbing statistic in itself — 18 resulted in wins.
With this data in hand, the statistical software R was launched. Performing chi-square tests and G-tests in a way that make my professors proud, it can be concluded that the number of wins from the Gauntlet is within the range of expected frequencies.
This is just a fancy way of saying that your friend who keeps winning repeatedly is making up for your continued losing streak.
In fact, with one in six odds, 18 out of 108 wins matches this ratio exactly.
So next year, when you feel like the whole world is set against you winning a $0.99 donut, take comfort in the fact someone out there is riding a constant cycle of wins that has covered their coffee for the past month.
And the next time you are groaning about your statistics assignments, remember there are useful applications for it. One day, you too will be able to calculate if Tim Hortons is pulling a fast one on us.