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It is not known exactly who started the ancient tradition of lotteries, but there are references to lotteries that date back to the Bible. In the Book of Numbers, chapter 26 vs. 55,56 - Moses uses a lottery to divide and award land to the west of the River Jordan.
There are also keno slips which come from the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 BC, these lotteries were used to raise money to finance major projects, like building the Great Wall of China as well as for Defense. The Chinese Shijing or "The Book of Songs" (1122-256 BC) gives a reference to a game of chance by "the drawing of wood".
From the Celtic era, come the Cornish words "teulel pren" which translate into "to throw wood" or "to draw lots". The ancient book The Iliad of Homer, also refers to the drawing of lots from Agamemnon's helmet to decide who would fight Hector.
The first known European lotteries were held during the era of the Roman Empire, mainly as an amusement at dinner parties. Each guest would receive a ticket, and prizes would often consist of fancy items such as dinnerware and fancy plate and every ticket holder would be assured of winning something. This type of lottery, however, was more like the giving of gifts by wealthy noblemen during the evening revelries.
One of the earliest records of a lottery offering tickets for sale is a lottery that was organized by the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar. The funds raised by this lottery were to be used for repairs to the City of Rome, and the winners were given prizes in articles of value.
The first recorded lotteries to offer tickets for sale with prizes of money were held in Belgium, Europe in 1465, where they held public lotteries to raise money to build canals, chapels, ports and fortifications and to assist and help the poor.
In 1567, Queen Elizabeth I of England held the first state lottery and prizes included cash, plate and tapestry.
The chances of winning a lotto jackpot can vary widely depending on the lottery design, and are determined by several factors, including the count of possible numbers, the count of winning numbers drawn, whether or not order is significant, and whether drawn numbers are returned for the possibility of further drawing.
In a simple 6-from-49 lotto, a player chooses six numbers from 1 to
49 (no duplicates are allowed). If all six numbers on the player's
ticket match those produced in the official drawing (regardless of
the order in which the numbers are drawn), then the player is a
jackpot winner. For such a lottery, the chance of being a jackpot
winner is 1 in 13,983,816.
In the instance of bonus ball lotteries where the bonus ball is compulsory, the odds are often even lower.
The USA Powerball is the biggest lottery in the World. In October 2015, the USA Powerball lottery altered it's draw format. In the new format 5 numbers are drawn from a 69 ball format and 1 powerball is drawn from a group of 26. If you match all six number correctly you win the jackpot! This new format created the first ever Billion Dollar Lottery Prize Jackpot in January 2016.
In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery in the United States, 5 numbers are drawn from a group of 56 and 1 number is drawn from a group of 46, and a player must match all 6 balls to win the jackpot prize. The chance of winning the jackpot is 1 in 175,711,536.
The odds of winning can also be reduced by increasing the group size from which numbers are drawn. In the SuperEnalotto of Italy, players must match 6 numbers out of 90. The chance of winning the jackpot are 1 in 622,614,630.
La Primitiva is a very old Spanish lottery as its game history dates back to 1762. After being absent for almost a century, this Spanish lottery was re-launched in 1985, with the re-introduction of the lottery. This gave La Primitiva a new six from 49 lottery matrix which pays out over 6.5 million USD in jackpot prizes every week and 1.4 billion USD in other cash prizes every year! Winning numbers are usually spread across the entire number field. The La Primitiva most frequently drawn numbers are currently: 47, 39, 38, 3, 5, 6, 23, 45. The La Primitiva least frequently drawn numbers are currently: 20, 49, 8, 24, 12, 18, 32, 43.
The EuroMillions is a transnational lottery, launched on February 7, 2004, by France's Française des Jeux, Spain's Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, and the United Kingdom's Camelot. The first draw was held on February 13, 2004 in Paris. EuroMillions lottery is hosted in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, U.K., Europe. The odds of winning any prize in the Euromillions lotto is approximately 1 in 13.
Most lotteries give lesser prizes for matching just some of the winning numbers. The Mega Millions game gives a payout (US$2) if a player matches only the bonus ball. In the UK National Lottery the smallest prize is £10 for matching three balls.
Obviously, when more numbers are matched the payout increases. Although none of these additional prizes affect the chances of winning the jackpot, they do improve the odds of winning something and therefore add value to the lottery ticket. It is common for the jackpot to be split evenly if multiple players have tickets with all the winning numbers.
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This is a 1994 US romantic comedy-drama film starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda. It is the story of New York City police officer (Cage) who wins the lottery and splits his winnings with a waitress (Fonda). The basic premise was inspired by a real-life incident. Isaac Hayes has a role as undercover reporter and photographer Angel Dupree, while also being the film's narrator.
In George Orwell’s novel 1984, in Oceania there is a lottery, and the proles often buy lottery tickets hoping for a big win. In reality only small amounts are ever paid out, the lack of communication between different parts of Oceania did not make this difficult.
In a famous occurrence, a Polish-Irish businessman named Stefan Klincewicz bought up almost all of the 1,947,792 combinations available on the Irish lottery ! He and his associates paid less than one million Irish pounds while the jackpot stood at £1.7 million. There were three winning tickets, but with the "Match 4" and "Match 5" prizes, Klincewicz made a small profit overall.
Almost 30% of all lotto ticket purchases are made on the day of the draw.