The Lottery – The Game That Will Change Your Life


Lottery is a game where people pay a small amount of money, pick a group of numbers, or have machines randomly spit out their numbers and hope to win big prizes. It’s a form of gambling that lures players with promises that their lives will be dramatically improved if they just win the jackpot, and even though God forbids covetousness (Exodus 20:17), it’s hard not to envy a lottery winner.

There’s no question that the lottery draws in a certain kind of player, one who is disproportionately lower-income, less educated, and nonwhite. They buy tickets as a form of recreation, and they’re drawn to those huge jackpots that appear on newscasts and websites. In addition, winning a large jackpot can be a powerful status symbol that affirms these individuals’ sense of meritocracy in a society where wealth is often associated with “success.”

The very first recorded lotteries took place in the Low Countries in the 15th century as a way to raise funds for town fortifications and to help the poor. They also played a big role in colonial America, where they were used to fund churches, libraries, roads, canals, colleges, and even the foundation of Princeton University in 1740.

Americans spend about $80 billion a year on the lottery, and that includes state taxes and fees paid to private advertising firms that boost ticket sales. And the odds are bad: about 50 percent of players don’t win. But that doesn’t stop a lot of people from playing. I’ve talked to people who play for years, spending $50 or $100 a week on the games. They’re clear-eyed about the odds and know that they’ll never win, but they still feel like if they just play enough, someone will finally get lucky.