Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton take part in the first presidential debate at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photograph by Joe Raedle—Getty Images
By Ben Geier
February 2, 2016

When Hillary Clinton won the Iowa Caucuses last night, she did it mostly because she got more votes than her opponents Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. In six precincts, though, she won because of the most classic of tie-breakers: coin flips.

Six precincts in Iowa were dead heats but had an odd number of county-level delegates to award. So the two campaigns flipped a coin, and, amazingly, Clinton won all six of the tosses. The probability of one person winning six coin flips is one in 64.

The Iowa Caucuses aren’t the only events of major international political importance to use chance to determine winners sometimes—the FIFA World Cup does too. After all other tiebreakers—goals scored, goal differential, etc.—are exhausted, a group stage tie in the World Cup is decided by “drawing of lots,” according to SBNation.

 

Other major soccer tournaments have also used chance before. In the 1968 European Championship, Italy beat the Soviet Union on a coin flip to advance to the final against Yugoslavia, which they won.

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