What is the Lottery?


The lottery is a form of gambling wherein people buy tickets for a chance to win prizes. Most lotteries allow players to choose a small set of numbers from a much larger set, and prizes are awarded if the player’s chosen numbers match those drawn by machines. The lottery has a long history in the United States. George Washington ran one in 1760 to raise money for the Mountain Road in Virginia, and Benjamin Franklin used a lottery to pay for cannons during the Revolutionary War. Today, the lottery is a major source of income for state governments and local governments.

Many states promote the lottery as a way to raise revenue without raising taxes, and the public often responds favorably to its introduction. However, critics of the lottery argue that this appeal is misguided because lottery revenues increase rapidly and then level off or even decline. The lottery industry must constantly introduce new games to attract and retain consumers.

In the story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson shows us how a society based on tradition blindly follows the actions of others, regardless of the fact that these traditions are harmful. The villagers in the story greeted each other with gossip, and they treated their family members poorly. The grotesque nature of their behavior is shocking, yet it seems as though the people involved have no regard for the impact of their actions.