Lottery Fever is Nothing New

Did you buy a Powerball ticket?  I didn’t, because the odds were not in my favor, and I hate to wait in line anyway.  The last time I bought a lottery ticket, I was bored at Kmart, so I decided to educate my neighbor’s children on the evils of gambling.  I bought a dollar ticket out of a machine and won $10!  So much for lessons.

I ran across something recently about how this all started, at least in England.  It was January 11, 1569, to be specific.  Elizabeth I needed funds to rebuild harbors and encourage trade,  so she tried a  lottery for “reparation of the havens and strengths of the Realme and towards such other public good works.”  This lottery was limited to 40,000 entries of 10 shillings each, which was too expensive for most common people.  The prize was 5,000 pounds,  paid partly in cash and partly in goods — tapestries, plate, and linen cloth.  In addition, the queen offered all entrants a “get out of jail free card” for all crimes other than murder, treason, piracy, and other felonies.  The total jackpot was equal to the number of tickets sold, but the prize wasn’t paid for three years, so the queen had an interest-free loan.  So this was England’s first recorded state lottery.

If you did buy a ticket, I hope you won something.


Source: The Writer’s Almanac, ( for January 11, 2016.

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