The letter by Don Payne of Anaheim (Sept. 4) discussing "The Odds in Lotto" was wrong in its statement of how odds are calculated.

In lotto, a number cannot be used twice or more, as occurs in the method proposed by Payne. The actual number of combinations of 49 numbers taken 6 at a time, as in lotto is:

C = 49! = 13,983,816

6!(49-6)!

The symbol ! designates a factorial number--one obtained by multiplying the indicated number by the product of all the positive whole numbers less than itself. Thus 6! = 654321 = 720.

Even though the real odds of 13.9 million to 1 for a lotto winner is almost a thousand times better than Payne's 13.8 billion, to me, it still seems to be pretty much of a long shot, no matter how big the pot.

ALBIN R. MEIER

Fullerton

* The Times received 15 letters in response to Don Payne's calculations. All but one agreed that the winning Lotto odds are one in 13,983,816. *