Lottery is a game of chance where participants purchase tickets and winners are selected through a random drawing. Many states and nations offer public lottery games where money or goods are the prizes offered to players who win. The earliest known lotteries date back to the 15th century in the Low Countries where towns held lottery games for the purpose of raising funds for town fortifications and the poor.
A common element of lotteries is some method of registering the identity of bettors and the amount of money staked. Often this is accomplished by having bettor’s sign their name on a receipt that is deposited with the lottery organization for later shuffling and selection in the drawing. In modern times this is usually done by computer systems that record each bettor’s ticket and the amount of money they have staked.
If the entertainment value or other non-monetary benefits obtained by playing the lottery exceeds the expected disutility of a monetary loss, the purchase of a ticket is a rational choice for that individual. However, if the entertainment value is not sufficient to overcome the disutility, then purchasing a ticket would not be a rational choice.
Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” depicts themes of tradition and societal conformity. The characters are unsatisfied with the current state of society, and the lottery is used as a way to improve their lives. The story also highlights the darker aspects of human nature.