How Richard Lustig Won the Lottery


When you win the lottery, it’s a life-changing event. It can allow you to buy a luxury home world, travel around the globe or close all your debts. While many people dream about winning the lottery, only few people actually do. But for Richard Lustig, it became a remarkable reality. But he was not born with any special skills or gifted brains, and his winning ticket came from simple math and common sense. His story shows that the lottery is nothing more than a game of chance with some savvy tactics mixed in.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, lotteries were a popular way to raise money for public projects. The Continental Congress used them during the Revolutionary War to support the Colonial Army, and Alexander Hamilton recognized that people “will always prefer a trifling hazard for the chance of considerable gain.” This insight was a crucial one. It allowed governments to raise large sums of money by selling tickets to small groups of people, without the risk that a few might object to paying.

But in the nineteen seventies and eighties, as America’s prosperity began to wane, this obsession with the dream of a big jackpot coincided with a crisis in state funding. As inflation and health-care costs rose, unemployment and pensions eroded, and job security disappeared for middle-class families, states faced a dilemma: either raise taxes or cut services to balance the budget.

Raising taxes is a tough sell to voters, especially in times of recession or war. So state officials began to turn to lotteries in a desperate attempt to raise money for everything from subsidized housing units to kindergarten placements. They began to advertise their games as a safe and reasonable alternative to cutting public programs, and they lowered the odds to increase demand.

As a result, winnings in the lottery now tend to be significantly higher than they were just a few years ago. But the total amount of money returned to players has stayed relatively the same, about 40 to 60 percent. It’s a small percentage compared to the profits of casinos, which return up to 75 percent to winners.

Despite the fact that every number has an equal probability of being chosen, people often select lottery numbers based on sentimental reasons such as their children’s birthdays or favorite songs. However, Harvard statistics professor Mark Glickman says that this strategy may actually reduce your chances of winning. He suggests playing numbers that aren’t close together so that other people won’t pick the same sequence. In addition, he recommends buying more tickets to increase your chance of winning. If you want to improve your chances, he also advises selecting random numbers. This way, you won’t have to share the prize with other players who chose the same numbers. This will give you a better chance of claiming the entire prize.