Here’s a midsummer night’s daydream: You — who have never won a single thing in your entire life — decide to take a wild leap and play the lottery. Why? There’s something about free money that seems rather appealing. Now then, you scratch the card, cross your fingers, avoid the 13th floor, and generally hope for the best. Then, right on July 17 — National Lottery Day — it happens. You win the big dollars and spend the rest of the month searching for the perfect beach house on Kauai.
Well, maybe, but one thing’s for sure — you have to play to win. National Lottery Day is a chance for everyone to try their luck and get involved.
National Lottery Day timeline
Colonists try their luck
American lotteries go back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. Research shows that the colonies held nearly 400 lotteries in the mid-18th century. A Philadelphia newspaper ad promised a "new brick house" for one lucky lottery winner. Tickets sold for 20 shillings each.
Although Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands held lotteries back in the 1930s, New Hampshire becomes the first U.S. state to do so. Schools there see immediate benefits from sales of sweepstakes tickets. Today 44 states (plus Washington, D.C.) conduct lotteries.
Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the first states to combine resources in order to create bigger jackpots. Their flagship game remains "Tri-State Megabucks." Today each of the 44 state lotteries offer both Mega Millions and Powerball.
The biggest jackpot ever
The Powerball jackpot on January 13 was an incredible $1.586 billion. Three lucky winners each took home just over $500 million each.
National Lottery Day Activities
You have to be in it to win it. Treat yourself to a few tickets and see what happens. You never know, today might be your lucky day.
Pool your money
If you're still paying money to play the traditional way, make it a team effort among friends. Just make sure you all understand how the seven-way split works before you hit the jackpot.
Buy a ticket for a loved one
Share the fun of playing with someone else and buy them a ticket too. If theirs is the winning ticket then we're sure that your generosity will be remembered.
Dream On: The 5 Biggest U.S. Lottery Jackpots Ever
$1.59 billion (2016)
A total of three winning tickets split the largest-ever jackpot — making each one worth more than $500 million. Winners lived in California, Florida, and Tennessee. The California winners assigned most of the proceeds to charity.
$1.54 billion (2018)
A South Carolina woman waited nearly four months to claim the prize. She took a one-time lump-sum payment of nearly $878 million — and remained anonymous.
$768 million (2019)
Winner Manuel Franco purchased his Powerball ticket at a Wisconsin gas station. His reaction? "I was going insane," Franco said. "My heart started racing. I screamed for about 5 or 10 minutes." He chose the lump-sum payment of $477 million. Franco is just 24 years old.
$759 million (2017)
Mavis Wanczyk bought the lucky ticket in Chicopee, Massachusetts. She won about $336 million. Wanczyk immediately quit her hospital job (patient care) after working for 32 years.
$688 million (2018)
The drawing produced two winning tickets. A New York City man named Robert Bailey claimed half — vowing afterwards to remain a lottery player. The other half went to Lerynne West of Redfield, Iowa (total population: 830). West had misplaced her ticket, but eventually discovered it on the floor of her sister's truck.
Why We Love National Lottery Day
The ultimate fantasy
Go ahead. Ask someone the standard "If you had three wishes..." question, and see how many times you hear the word "lottery." It's human nature after all. Pick a few numbers. Win a million (or 100 million) dollars. That's a tough wish to top.
A chance to change the world
Or at least a few lives. You can really start helping people (and worthy causes) once you win the big dollars. You wouldn't keep all your lottery winnings for yourself — now would you?
Just considering a mega jackpot might force you to start assessing what you really want out of life. Maybe it's not actually a new car or tickets to join a future mission to Mars. What if your dream's easier to reach than you think?
National Lottery Day dates