A lottery is a game of chance where winners get selected through a random drawing. It’s often used by governments to dish out big cash prizes. People pay a small amount to play, and the jackpots can run into millions of dollars.
Lotteries are also a source of revenue for states, which often promote them as painless forms of taxation. But just how meaningful that revenue is, and whether it’s worth the trade-offs for the people who lose money playing them, are questions that deserve serious scrutiny.
In this episode, we’ll explore how lottery games work and the ways in which they can be used to raise important issues about economics, social inequality, and government spending. We’ll look at the many ways people try to increase their odds of winning, and we’ll examine what it means to be “lucky” in a world of randomness.
One way to increase your chances of winning is to choose numbers that aren’t popular, such as birthdays or ages. Harvard statistics professor Mark Glickman says that’s the best way to avoid a lot of other players choosing those same numbers. Another trick is to buy Quick Picks. But if you do that, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to share the prize with anyone who had the same combination of numbers as you did.