Americans spend more on the lottery than all other forms of entertainment combined. In 2014, they spent $70.1 billion on lottery tickets, while they spent only $63 billion on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and recorded music.
Voltaire, the famous French writer and philosopher, was an early lottery winner. He teamed up with a mathematician and exploited a loophole in the French national lottery, making him almost half a million francs richer.
A Powerball drawing in 2005 had 110 second-prize winners who shared a jackpot of $19.4 million. The reason was that they all picked their numbers from fortune cookies.
A bartender in Oregon once received a pair of Keno tickets as a tip from a patron and won $17,500 from them.
The lottery has expanded rapidly in the United States since 1980. Back then, only 14 states had their own lotteries, but now 43 states do.
The lottery tends to generate more revenue from the poor. A study in North Carolina showed that people living in the poorest counties bought the most lottery tickets.
The first public lottery we know about was held in 1445 in a Dutch town that offered a prize of 1,737 florins, or almost €200,000 today.