Lottery Facts
Lottery Facts

35 Interesting Lottery Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published January 2, 2019Updated August 15, 2019
  • The first recorded instance of a lottery are keno slips from ancient China dating to between 201 and 187 BC. The lotteries most likely helped finance large government projects, such as the Great Wall of China.[4]
  • During the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, wealthy dinner hosts held a type of lottery. Each guest received a ticket, and the holder of the winning ticket often received items such as dinnerware.[4]
  • Roman Augustus Caesar held the first recorded lottery that offered tickets for sale. He used the funds to repair the city.[4]
  • In the Middle Ages, various governments held lotteries to help raise funds for all kinds of public usages. Lotteries were very popular and were considered a painless form of taxation.[4]
  • A person is more likely to be killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million) than to win the lottery.[2]
  • Lottery Statistics
    Winning the lottery does not necessarily make a person healthier or happier
  • Those who win the lottery are less likely to enjoy the everyday events of life, such as eating breakfast or chatting with a friend.[9]
  • A person is more likely to become U.S. President (1 in 10 million) than to win the lottery.[2]
  • One man who was asked what he would buy if he won the lottery, bluntly said, a "bunch of hookers and cocaine." He admitted that he had a wife and two kids.[3]
  • Stanford professor Joan R. Ginther won the lottery four times. The odds of this happening is about 1 in 18 septillion. Experts note that because she is a math genius, she may have cracked the lottery algorithm.[8]
  • A California woman won $1.3 million in the lottery, then immediately filed for divorce from her husband without telling him. Two years later, when he found out she won, he sued her. The judge gave him all of the winnings. Every penny.[11]
  • Americans spend more money on lottery tickets than they do on music, books, movies, video games, and sports teams—combined.[6]
  • Americans spend about $70.15 billion on lottery tickets per year.[6]
  • I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not.

    - Fran Lebowitz

  • In 2010, the weekly state lottery in Israel drew the same six numbers it did three weeks earlier. The chance of this happening is one in four trillion.[14]
  • Just 20 months after Billie Bob Harrell, Jr. won the lottery in 1997, he was separated from his wife, defrauded by tricksters, and ultimately committed suicide. Shortly before his death, he said, "winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."[12]
  • Andrew "Jack" Whittaker won the $315 million Powerball jackpot in December 2002. After being robbed and sued, and after the deaths of his daughter and granddaughter, Whittaker sobbed, "I wish I'd torn that ticket up."[12]
  • About 70% of lottery winners not only spend all their winnings, but they lose the rest of their money within seven years.[3]
  • Lottery Winners
    Lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within three to five years than the average American

  • The most commonly drawn numbers in the lottery are 44, 38, and 40.[5]
  • The most commonly chosen numbers in the lottery end in 7.[5]
  • When people choose lottery numbers, they tend to choose numbers based on the previous week's numbers.[5]
  • If a lottery ticket is $2, it would take $584,402,676 to buy every single combination to guarantee a win.[10]
  • Even if you bought thousands of lottery tickets, your probability of winning remains at 1-in-292,201,338. Probability does not increase with subsequent draws.[10]
  • New Yorkers buy more lottery tickets than citizens of any other state, shelling out over $9 billion a year.[7]
  • The chance of someone winning the Powerball is about one in over 292 million.[3]
  • Mega Million Fact
    The best way to make money on the lottery is to not play

  • North Dakota sells the least amount of lottery tickets in the United States.[7]
  • Men in the United States play the lottery every 18 days, while women play every 11 days.[7]
  • Around 70% of 20- to 30-somethings buy at least one lottery ticket per year. Approximately 45% of seniors age 70 or older buy at least one lottery ticket per year.[7]
  • The most popular new car to buy after winning the lottery is an Audi, with a Range Rover coming in second.[7]
  • More people would rather win the lottery than find true love.[9]
  • In the United States, there are 44 states that participate in the lottery. The six that don't include Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Nevada. Nevada does not participate because the state already benefits from gambling profits.[15]
  • The largest jackpot in U.S. history was worth $1.5 billion in January 2016. The winning tickets were sold in California, Texas, and Florida.[15]
  • Fun Lottery Fact
    Lower income people are more likely to buy a lottery ticket than their more wealthy counterparts
  • Lottery advertisers have been accused of targeting African-Americans and lower-income people in an attempt to exploit their desires to escape poverty.[9]
  • The IRS can take up to 40% of lottery prize money, and then specific states can tax the winnings even more.[15]
  • In Sweden's "Speed Camera Lottery," an electronic traffic monitor automatically enters drivers who drive at or below the speed limit. The winnings come from fines paid by speeders.[13]
  • An Australian man named Bill Morgan was once pronounced dead but was revived 14 minutes later. To celebrate, he bought a scratch-off lottery ticket and won a car worth $17,000. While he was reacting to his win during a news interview, he won another $250,000 jackpot.[1]
  • Lotteries are usually state run and benefit a variety of government programs, such as tax relief, senior citizen care, education, health care, sports facilities, construction projects, and more.[15]
  • Lucky Lottery Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Fun Lottery Infographic

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