Lottery Balls

Beyond the Winning Numbers: Fun Facts About the Lottery

As a fairly common game of chance and luck, lotteries are a part of society that lead to fun icebreaker questions (what would you do if you won the lottery?) and gives that inkling of hope to strike it rich. Behind the numbers and probability are a whole slew of interesting facts, presented right below. 

People in Massachusetts spend the most of lotteries with an average spend of $1000.

When looking at absolute dollars spent on lottery tickets, Massachusetts ranks second behind New York, but has the highest amount of annual lottery spending per adult in the nation, with an average of $860.70 according to information from a Bloomberg analysis, published in Investopedia.  

Those between 65 to 74 years spend the most on lottery tickets

According to data from 2017-2018 collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those aged 65-74 spent an average of $132.43 on lottery tickets. The second highest spending age group were those between the ages of 45 and 54. 

Voltaire, the philosopher, was essentially a lottery scammer

This well-known Enlightenment philosopher was able to become an aristocrat, rub elbows with other famous writers and politicians, and focus on his writings because he, along with mathematician Charles Marie de la Condamine, was able to find a loophole in the French lottery system. The French lottery was a fundraising scheme to fund bonds the French government owned; only bond-owners could purchase lottery tickets for 1/1000th of the bond value along with the chance to win not only the face value of the bond, but also a 500,000-livre jackpot. Unfortunately, the way the system was set up, those who purchased a 100,000-value bond paid 1,000 livres for a lottery ticket that had the same chance of winning as someone who purchased a 1,000-value bond and paid 1 livre for their lottery ticket. 

Person Filling In Lottery Ticket

With this knowledge, Voltaire, de la Condamine and 11 others teamed up and raked in the winnings, leading to Voltaire’s ability to comfortably write out his ideas without the worry of poverty. Read more about how the lottery scheme worked in this article by Kat Eschner in the Smithsonian Magazine.

The earliest recorded instance of a lottery ticket is from China between 205 and 187 BCE

The lottery system used then in ancient China, specifically the Han Dynasty, was keno. In keno, players choose 15 numbers between 1 and 80, and the number generator comes out with 20 numbers. Winnings then are determined by how many numbers the player chose, the count of matching numbers and size of the player’s stake, according to PlayiLottery. Keno still exists in some state lotteries and casinos today, but back in ancient China, lotteries were often used to fund various government projects, the Great Wall of China possibly being one of those projects, according to this collection of brief lottery history by Nicholas Christensen on Lottery Critic. 

Films funded by the National Lottery have won 14 Oscars and 32 BAFTAs 

China used lotteries to fund government projects, and the British Film Institute uses the National Lottery to fund and develop original UK filmmakers. Films partially funded by the BFI Film Fund mission include “The King’s Speech” which was nominated for 12 Oscars and won four, including Best Picture. Other films include “The Last King of Scotland” and “Free Fire”. 

From funding government projects to famous lottery players, we hope you now have a few more fun facts to pop out about the lottery.