Queen Elizabeth I initiated the first National Lottery in England in 1567 in order to raise money to build ships and develop ports for the maritime battle against Spain.
Tickets cost ten shillings each, which was more than most could afford, and the first prize was an enormous £5000, which was paid partly in ‘ready money’ and partly in plate, tapestries and ‘good linen cloth’. To encourage sales, all ticket holders were promised freedom from arrest for all crimes other than murder, felonies, piracy or treason.
You are 20 times more likely to die in an accident at home than you are to win Lotto.
A study of 4,000 British lottery winners has shown that 45% of people who won sums of over £500, and had previously supported Labour, immediately switched to the Tories after their win.
However, all that money might not necessarily make you happy. A 1978 study found that overall happiness levels of lottery winners spiked when they won, but returned to pre-winning levels after just a few months. American therapists tell us that lottery winners can suffer from Sudden Wealth Syndrome. Symptoms of SWS include isolation from former friends, guilt over one's good fortune, and extreme fear of losing all of one's money.
Here's something to think about: How come you never see a headline like 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
Casanova launched France's first state lottery, in the process making one of Europe's fastest ever fortunes.
Lottery tickets are a surtax on desperation.
In 2000 Robert Mugabe won the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation's lottery jackpot and in 1891, Claude Monet won 100,000 francs in the French national lottery.
The Great Wall of China was funded with a lottery; in the Bible, Moses distributed land with one; and the Roman Emperor Elagabalus ran one in the second century: being mad, he included booby prizes such as six flies, a dead dog, or a swarm of bees. Westminster Bridge and Sir Hans Sloane's collection, which was the beginning of the Natural History Museum, were also paid for by lotteries.
In 2013, a woman in Thailand found the corpse of a dead kitten inside a foot-long sausage. She decided to make a shrine out of the kitty-sausage, and hit the news when neighbours came to visit her shrine and coincidentally started to get lucky at the local lottery.
In 1995, Clarence 'Inaction' Jackson won $5.8 million on the Connecticut lottery, but didn't notice until the time limit for claiming the prize had passed. He sued, but the court ruled against him. Worse still, spare a thought for Costis Mitsotakis, who was the only person in his village not to have paid into the syndicate that won the massive 2011 El Gordo lottery.
Two players once split the Irish Lottery jackpot having both picked numbers using the birth, ordination and death dates of the same priest.