If you’re one of the lucky few to have won a lottery jackpot, you might be wondering how that happened. After all, the odds of winning are ridiculously low. But what if we told you that there’s a simple formula that could help you improve your chances? That’s the message Romanian-born mathematician Stefan Mandel shared after he won the lottery 14 times. He explains that winning the lottery comes down to basic math and logic, as well as the “meritocratic belief” that we’re all going to be rich someday.
A few hundred years ago, the lottery was not just a common form of gambling, but a significant source of revenue for government projects and social services. Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to fund the Continental Congress, John Hancock ran one to build Boston’s Faneuil Hall, and George Washington operated one to raise funds for a road across a mountain pass in Virginia. State lotteries also funded public schools and colleges, including Harvard, Yale, and King’s College. But then, in the nineteen sixties, booming population and inflation began to strain state budgets. Politicians looked for ways to keep up services without raising taxes, and that’s when the lottery became an important revenue source.
State-run lotteries were hailed by many as a kind of budget miracle. By bringing in hundreds of millions in cash, the lottery allowed states to avoid a tax increase and still maintain their services. Cohen writes that lottery advocates dismissed long-standing ethical objections to gambling, arguing that since people were going to gamble anyway, governments might as well reap the profits. This argument didn’t work in practice, but it gave moral cover to those who approved of lotteries for other reasons.
The lottery isn’t a magic bullet for fixing the economy or improving education, but it does provide a measure of fairness to people who are not as wealthy as others. It provides a chance for people who cannot afford to spend much money on gambling to have a chance at a jackpot that can make all their dreams come true. And that’s something worth fighting for.
When you play the lottery, choose numbers that aren’t close together or ones that end with a number. It’s also a good idea to buy more tickets, because each individual number has an equal probability of being drawn. This is a strategy that Richard Lustig, who has won the lottery seven times, recommends. He says it’s better to buy more tickets than less, and he suggests choosing numbers that aren’t associated with sentimental value, like birthdays or anniversaries. It will make you feel like you have a better chance of winning, even though it’s not that likely. However, he admits that luck plays a role in winning the lottery as well. He also suggests avoiding numbers that are repeated in the winning combination. This is the trick that he reveals in his book How to Win the Lottery. It may sound complicated, but it’s really very simple.