Lottery is a way for governments to make money by selling tickets that have numbers on them and giving prizes to people whose numbers are picked in a random drawing. Governments organize lotteries to raise money for a variety of things, from building roads to helping poor people. Lotteries have been around for a long time, with the first recorded ones in the Low Countries in the 1500s.
There is a belief that lottery players are all irrational and don’t know how odds work, but it turns out that’s not the case. When you talk to people who play the lottery regularly – those who spend $50 or $100 per week – they’re usually pretty clear about how odds work and what their chances are of winning. They have quote-unquote systems about lucky numbers and stores and times of day and they know the odds are bad, but they also think that there’s a chance that they could win the jackpot and change their life forever.
These people are not the top or bottom quintile of earners – they’re people in the 21st through 60th percentile, with discretionary income to spend on lottery tickets. They’re not the irrational gamblers that people assume they are, but they do play the lottery with a sense of seriousness, and it does take up a significant portion of their income. It’s regressive, but it’s also an attempt to live the American dream and to believe that you’re not stuck where you are because of a lack of opportunities and hard work.