How to Win the Lottery


Lotteries are an ancient pastime, as evidenced by the Old Testament’s instructions for dividing land among the people, and Roman emperors’ use of the lottery to give away property and slaves. They also became a fixture in the United States, first introduced by British colonists in the seventeenth century, when public reaction to the games was mixed. Some were enthusiastic, and others were adamantly opposed. By the 1840s, ten states had banned them, but in the following decades, public attitudes changed dramatically, and today there are more than 100 state and national lotteries.

While there’s always a chance that luck will smile on you, the likelihood diminishes when patterns repeat, so diversify your number selections and steer clear of groups with poor success-to-failure ratios. For example, avoiding numbers confined to one group or those that end in similar digits can significantly boost your chances of winning.

The prize size matters too, since super-sized jackpots drive sales and earn free publicity on news sites and TV broadcasts. It’s counterintuitive, but the bigger the jackpot, the more likely it is to grow even bigger until its size becomes truly astounding–and then people rush to buy tickets in droves.

It’s a psychological trick, of course, but it’s not all that different from the strategies used by tobacco companies or video-game manufacturers. And it’s not surprising that state lotteries aren’t above availing themselves of those same principles. It’s just not usually done under the guise of a government agency.

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