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Every once in a while, a crazy lottery headline captures everyone’s attention and becomes a viral sensation for a week or two, but only the rare few keep being re-told in years to come. One of them is a story of an Australian truck driver Bill Morgan, who won an impressive $250.000 cash reward after being clinically dead for 14 minutes.
Back in 1997, Mr. Morgan had a bad accident at work and was given a medicine that caused an extreme allergic reaction. He was clinically dead for 14 minutes, and after the doctors got his heart going again, the man spent 12 days in a coma and miraculously survived without any brain damage or long-term consequences. After this near-death experience, Morgan decided to turn his life around – he quit his job, and got engaged with his long-time girlfriend Lisa Wells.

This story doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the lottery so far, but hang in there. In order to celebrate his engagement, he decided to buy a scratch-off ticket and ended up winning a car that would be worth around $24.000 today. Since he survived a lot prior to the lotto win, Morgan’s story attracted local Melbourne journalists, who decided to do a news report on him.

In order to make it more interesting, they’ve asked him to do a re-enactment of his winning scratch and the lucky man happily obliged. Instead of looking at the camera and saying something like, “I just won a car” he told reporters that he netted $250.000 – it turned out that the ticket he bought in order to film the feature was also the winning one. He immediately called his fiancée to share the news about his latest lottery prize, which allowed them to buy a house and start their new life together.

Anticipation, surprise and hope for a better future – these are three ingredients that can be found in every news story about lottery winners claiming their magnificent windfalls. Reading about this people often inspires us to try our own luck by choosing few random numbers, but this isn’t the only kind of inspiration that lottery provides. Many authors throughout history used lottery as the main theme while creating their works of art, accomplishing remarkable results.

lottery ticket1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl’s well-known children book is perhaps the most famous work of fiction that uses lottery as a main source of inspiration. It tells a story of a boy named Charlie Bucket, who had lived in poverty his whole life, but in an amazing turn of events he wins the last golden ticket that grants him a visit to a famous chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka.

2. Waking Ned Devine
Many jackpot winners tend to say they’ve almost died of shock after seeing their numbers match, but in this hilarious movie directed by Kirk Jones it literally happens to the titular character Ned Devine. After his death, residents of his small town in Ireland try to claim the prize in his name and go to great lengths in order to fool the inspector into giving them the money.

3. The Lottery Ticket
Unlike lottery stories that you read in the newspapers, this one written by the great Russian author Anton Chekhov is full of resentment, bitterness and envy. After checking the latest lottery results and thinking they’ve won a major lottery prize, a middle-aged couple starts fantasizing about their future and realizes their visions are quite different, only to discover they’ve read the numbers wrong.

4. It Could Happen To You
In this romantic comedy, Nicolas Cage plays a New York City cop who doesn’t have enough money to tip a waitress in a local diner. He promises her they will share his lottery prize if his ticket matches the winning numbers and ends up scooping $4.000.000 the very next day.

5. Ticket No. 9672
Lottery also inspired the pioneer of the science fiction genre Jules Verne to write this adventure novel, also known by the name “The Lottery Ticket”. It tells a story of woman waiting for her lover to return with a great fortune he promised her after sailing off to sea. What she gets instead is a message in a bottle along with a mysterious lottery ticket, numbered 9672.

History of gambling isn’t something you learn in school, but there are many interesting facts one can stumble upon while exploring its origin. From Europe and Asia to the United States, lotteries helped in shaping peoples’ lives and culture, and building societies that we know of today. The earliest forms of lotto games can be traced as far as 100 BC, and their rich history flourished more and more in the upcoming two millenniums.

lotto history

1. Lotteries helped in building The Great Wall of China
Keno is believed to be one of the oldest lottery games ever created, since it originated in China during the Han Dynasty. This game is crucial part of this country’s history in more ways than one – according to the legend, the invention of Keno saved an ancient city in time of war, and its widespread popularity helped raise funds to build the Great Wall of China.

2. Voltaire made a fortune rigging the lottery
Before history came to know him as a great Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire used his wits to make a fortune in an elaborate lottery scheme. During a dinner party in the late 1720s, mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government, and since he wasn’t doing well financially at the time, Voltaire decided to join in, earning around a million livres.

3. The USA was funded by many lottery projects
The Founding Fathers of the United States are known for many things, but their love for lotteries is rarely mentioned. Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to raise money for buying cannon for the defence of Philadelphia, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson set up several private lotteries, and during the Revolutionary War lotto projects were used to fund the Colonial Army. Nowadays, there are many lotteries in the US, such as Powerball, MegaMillions, NY Lottery and California Super Lotto.

4. Casanova was a trustee of the first state lottery in France
Everyone knows Casanova as a great seducer, but he was also a big fan of gambling – in his memoirs, Casanova discussed his love for lotteries, faro, basset, piquet – to name a few. He found a way to put his lotto knowledge to some good use by becoming one of the trustees of the first state lottery in France. He later tried to sell his lottery scheme to governments in few other countries, but with no success.