Incredible and fun lottery facts and stories | theLotter

15 Incredible Lottery Facts

If you think winning the lottery is impossible, read on, stranger things have happened! Not only does the lottery make dreams come true and change lives forever, but it also has some incredible stories, facts, and drama of its own. Some of these stories could be told in lottery television shows! Dive into 15 of the most incredible lottery facts and take a moment to appreciate all the drama and excitement that the lottery creates.

Then, go create some excitement of your own by playing the lottery!

1. Not checking or losing a lottery ticket cost someone big-time

The world record for largest unclaimed lottery prize goes to a EuroMillions ticket sold in the UK worth £63,837,543.60. The draw date was 8 June 2012, so even if someone finds the ticket now, it will be of no use to them. All unclaimed National Lottery prizes go toward its Good Causes fund.

incredible lottery facts

2. Multi-million-dollar lessons in politeness

We're taught to always be polite and respectful, especially to our elders. Mindy Crandall took this lesson to heart and let 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie cut in line at a supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida. One of the things on both ladies' shopping list was a Powerball ticket. "Another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket,” Mackenzie said. Because of the line jump, Mackenzie won $590 million in the draw on 18 May 2013. Crandall says she doesn't regret a thing because it taught her daughter an important lesson about kindness.

A very lucky New Jersey man experienced a similar act of kindness from a stranger that helped him win a Mega Millions jackpot worth $273 million on 8 March 2019. Michael J. Weirsky had forgotten his tickets on the counter of a Phillipsburg QuickChek convenience store while checking something on his phone. A good Samaritan saw Michael's forgotten tickets and turned them in to the store clerk. After searching for his tickets for hours, Michael contacted the store and was told that someone had turned them in earlier. “I was very thankful there was an honest person out there because I thought it was gone,” he said.

To save yourself from these scenarios, skip the grocery line and play your favourite lotteries online!

3. One very accurate fortune cookie made lottery history

lottery fortune cookie

In 2003, 110 tickets matched the second-highest Powerball prize  division. Normally Powerball expects the amount of winners to be zero to four per draw, so they suspected fraud. What they found was much more interesting than a case of lottery tampering – a lucky fortune cookie had been making the rounds in Chinese restaurants across the country and people played the cookie's lucky numbers. 89 ticket holders won $100,000 and 21 won $500,000 because they chose the Power Play which multiplied their winnings. An important lesson learned… cookies are good for you!

4. The Low Countries are lottery pioneers

The first lotteries on record which offered tickets in exchange for cash prizes were held in the Netherlands and Belgium in the 15th century. One of the first lotteries with a complete record was held in 1445 in L'Ecluse (modern-day Sluis). The lottery offered a prize of 1,737 florins (roughly $170,000 in today's money) and sold over 4,300 tickets. Most revenues were used to build town infrastructure or help the poor.

5. The word 'lottery' is a multi-cultural mashup

Since lottery evolved into its modern form – selling tickets for a potential cash prize win – in the Netherlands and Belgium, it is no surprise that the English word 'lottery' originates from the Dutch word 'lot' which means 'fate'. 'Lotto' originates from Italian – the first post-Roman Empire lottery in Italy was held in Milan in 1449.

6. Even Vatican City has lotteries!

At first the papacy was against lotteries in Rome. Popes Innocent XI and XII threatened excommunication against Catholics that participated in the Italian lotteries, but the lotteries were still as popular as ever with the public. In 1732, the Holy See led by Pope Innocent XIII finally permitted the establishment of an official Roman lottery. Centuries later, the Vatican has more than warmed up to lotteries. Pope Francis, the current pope, held a lottery -- with funds going to charity – in January 2015. He just announced a second lottery with a 30 July draw date. The tickets are only 10 euros each, however you'll have to go to a Vatican pharmacy, post office, supermarket, or bookshop if you want to enter.

7. The British Museum was created by lottery funds – and still benefits!

One of the world's best museums was made possible because of the lottery! In 1753, England formed a lottery with the museum's creation in mind. More than 250 years later, the museum still receives funding in the form of Heritage Lottery Fund grants. The Heritage Lottery Fund gives grants to many British institutions with proceeds from the National Lottery.

8. Lotteries are a whole lot older than you think

While no one can say definitively when lotteries began, they certainly are not a new concept. The earliest forms of lottery can be traced as far back as 100 B.C. in Ancient Rome and the Han Dynasty in China. This means that lotteries have been a part of human history for at least 2,114 years! A slightly more modern story is that of the Spanish raffles such as Loteria de Navidad which was first drawn in 1812.

9. The United States of America was a lottery-funded project

The founding fathers of the US were founding fans of the lottery! Benjamin Franklin established a lottery to pay for a cannon in Philadelphia. George Washington set up many lotteries, though they never succeeded. Thomas Jefferson set up a private lottery to pay off debts. And in 1776, the Continental Congress established lotteries in order to fund the Colonial Army. No wonder Mega Millions and Powerball are so popular – playing the lottery is as patriotic as bald eagles and baseball!

10. Sometimes lightning does strike twice or thrice

A man in Florida, James Bozeman Jr., won the Florida Lotto twice with tickets purchased at the same 7-Eleven convenience store; his total winnings are $13 million. A couple in Virginia won the lottery three times in one month; they won $1 million with a Powerball ticket on 12 March 2014, then won $50,000 on 26 March with a Virginia Lottery Pick 4 ticket, and yet another $1 million with a Virginia Lottery Scratcher ticket the very next day! In Norway, three members of the Oksnes family won the lottery three times in six years. There are many other examples of lottery luck to prove that people can win the lottery more than once!

lightning striking you

11. Cop splits lotto ticket with waitress… and they win!

Police detective Robert Cunningham enjoyed frequenting his favourite restaurant for the past eight years. Detective Cunningham was just about to leave a tip for Phyllis Penzo, who had been a waitress at the restaurant for 24 years, when instead he offered her the following deal; split whatever the lottery ticket in his pocket might win them. She agreed, and the rest is history – the two won $6 million together, and split the prize after electing to receive annual payments of $285,715.

Nicholas Cage starred in a movie based on the event, called It Could Happen to You. Check it out!

12. An Australian syndicate in the US… in 1992!

An Australian syndicate group manually listed all possible outcomes for a 6/44 lottery in Virginia. Needing to purchase each ticket separately at the time, they only managed to buy about 5 million tickets at $1 each out of the possible 7 million different combinations. That was quite sufficient though, as the syndicate managed to win the $27 million jackpot, bringing home a net profit of $23 million. It looks like they made the right move!

Virginia lottery officials were so shocked when they learned what happened, that they considered placing a ban on such strategies in the future. However, the motion fell through and the only law passed was one that requires sales agents to take care of other clients in line before helping bulk-lottery buyers out.

13. Man comes back from the dead to win scratch lottery, twice!

In the late 90's, Bill Morgan, an Australian truck driver, suffered a fatal heart attack after being crushed in an accident. He was clinically dead for 14 minutes, a span of time which most people rarely recover from without significant neurological or brain damage. However, he refused to be a statistic and woke up from a medically induced coma after 12 days with all of his faculties perfectly intact!

It wasn't long after this bizarre chain of events that Bill Morgan decided to buy a scratch-off ticket at a lottery stall, and ended winning a car worth $17,000! A local TV station asked him to re-enact the win for a story, which was when Moran scratched off a ticket that won him $170,000! Some people have asked him to try his luck a third time, but Bill has so far refused.

14. Math professor cracks the system, wins millions in scratch lottery

math professor cracks lottery

After winning multi-million dollar prizes four times by playing scratch cards, Joan Ginther is considered by some to be the luckiest woman in the world. As is often the case when people win so many times, especially if they also happen to be math professors, the general assumption is that she managed to "crack the system". Ginther has never granted an interview, but what we do know is that all of her jackpot wins were in the Texas Lottery's high stakes scratch card games, buying her cards three times at the same vendor, and once at a nearby town.

15. What are the odds: dying in a car crash or winning the jackpot?

The odds of fatal injuries while driving are about 1 in 6,700, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The odds of winning the jackpot in any given lottery are much lower, no matter which lottery you wish to play. Herein lies the catch – you need to drive to a shop to buy your lottery ticket, right? WRONG! You can buy lottery tickets online without ever needing to step foot in a car or public transportation!

One last incredible lottery fact: anyone can win!

We've got one last incredible lottery factoid for you: you can win! If you think you're someone who deserves to win the lottery, give yourself a chance to make lottery history by playing the lottery online with theLotter now!