Everybody ever has, at least once, imagined what they would do if they would win the lottery. And, while this is done for fun, in this layman’s guide to the United States lottery we will see that thinking about it in advance might be the best course of action.
There are three main reasons why you should, at least occasionally, try your hand in one of the two US lottery options:
- It is fun to watch and imagine
- You are helping public finances
- You can win a lot of money
From these, only #2 is guaranteed. But, in the case, you do win you can start getting a lot of money on your account. You would get more than half a billion dollars at least, and that is just enough to have some spending money once your investments have been settled.
Origins in Public Funding
Lottery, in a fairly similar form as it is today, has existed for ages. Since antiquity, people have been playing games similar to a raffle and the modern lottery has been played in China since the 2nd century BC to fund the Great Wall.
Public funding is the main reason for organizing a lottery and the state was usually the only one allowed to have such a game played under their supervision. It is thus said that the only person who regularly wins the lottery is the one organizing it.
Lotteries in the 13 Colonies
With settlers coming to the Americas they brought most of their traditions and games with them, including the lottery. This is why this game has been played in the 13 original colonies almost since their inception.
But, after a series of scandals in the 19th century, as well as demands for prohibitions on moral grounds by religious authorities, many of the states started slowly banning the practice until 1895 and a massive scandal in Louisiana that prompted the lottery to be banned in the United States.
Only some 40 years later it was re-established in Puerto Rico, followed by New Hampshire in 1964. Now, more than a century after the complete ban, 45 States of the union, as well as Puerto Rico, D.C, and the Virgin Islands all have their own lotteries.
Played Most Places, Available Everywhere
While most states have their own lottery systems, and there are even some lotteries that are supported by multiple states at once, there are places like Hawaii that don’t have a local lottery.
Nation-wide games like the Powerball and Mega Millions are still available, and players from Hawaii can purchase tickets from all other states and be considered legitimate winners. Because the system is automated and always broadcasted, there is little chance of outright corruption.
Additionally, most lottery options have more than a single game on the same ticket. Sometimes this is a simple scratch ticket or even a keno game that you can apply for online.
This is a great pastime for players that want to watch some fun television, as the drawing of the lottery numbers is usually followed by a variety program and a show.
Powerball and Mega Millions
These are the two options that are available nation-wide and have, by far, the greatest payout. The jackpot on Mega Millions exiting 2020 was a whopping 700 million dollars, with the projected maximum in January 2021 being $800M.
Ironically, the games became fairer and with better payouts in the last few decades. As they are enjoyed by millions of Americans each week, the revenue from the advertisement and broadcasting has become almost as much as from the tickets themselves.
Both options offer either a lump-sum payment or so-called annuity, which means that you would get the money in installments over years. Generally, because the winnings are taxed quite severely due to the amount, wise winners usually take the annuity.
While the installments may sound smaller, this amount for the $700M jackpot would be more than 2 million dollars per month.
Online Lottery Options
In the last decade, and especially in 2020 due to the closing of many physical stores that sell tickets, online lottery in the United States has become increasingly popular. By simply visiting the website you can buy your ticket the same as you would in a store.
This option is available from any platform and there isn’t even a requirement to be a US citizen or resident to play. You can play games from the US lottery setup online from anywhere in the world.
Interesting related article: “What is Betting?“