The Lottery and Prejudice


The lottery is a form of gambling that involves drawing numbers at random to win a prize. Some governments outlaw it, while others endorse it and organize state or national lotteries. The prizes for winning the lottery can range from cash to valuable goods and services, such as a car or a house. In some cultures, lotteries are used to raise funds for public works projects. Others use them to provide charity or education. In the early fourteen-hundreds, European colonists brought the idea to America, where it grew in popularity alongside Protestant proscriptions against gambling. The first American state-sponsored lottery was chartered in Massachusetts in 1745.

Today, 44 states and the District of Columbia run lotteries. The six states that don’t—Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah, and Nevada, all of which allow gambling—don’t do lotteries for a variety of reasons, reports the BBC. Some states don’t want to compete with Las Vegas, where casino gambling is legal; others have religious objections; and some, like Alaska, don’t need additional revenue.

Some people argue that the lottery is a “tax on the stupid.” This view suggests that lottery players don’t understand how rare it is to win and that they enjoy playing the game anyway. But this argument is misguided. It ignores the reality that lottery sales increase when incomes fall, unemployment rates rise, and poverty rates increase. In addition, lottery advertising is heavily geared toward poor, black, and Latino neighborhoods. It is not unlike the marketing strategy of tobacco companies or video-game makers.

In The Lottery, the story of a grotesque prejudice hiding in plain sight, Shirley Jackson highlights the problem of blindly following tradition. The villagers in this short story are aware that they are participating in a lottery, but they do not care about what the prize might be or even why they are doing it. The villagers believe that they are helping to keep family traditions alive. But in reality, they are sacrificing the lives of their fellow citizens to keep up with a practice that is outdated and cruel.

This story illustrates the way in which prejudice is often a hidden issue, and how it can affect a society as a whole. While it is easy to dismiss prejudice as something that only affects a small minority, the fact of the matter is that the majority of society has been affected by it in one way or another. Whether it is racism, the lack of diversity in Hollywood movies, or the general prejudice that exists within our society, it is an important issue that must be addressed. The best way to do so is by understanding it and being educated about it. By doing so, we can prevent the prejudices that exist in our world from growing stronger. Hopefully, this will lead to a better world in the future.