A competition based on chance, in which tickets bearing numbers are drawn at random to award prizes. A lottery may be run by a state or by a private enterprise for profit, or it may be organized to raise funds for public purposes. The word lottery is probably derived from Middle Dutch lotte, the act of drawing lots, and may be a calque on Middle French loterie (which is itself a calque on Latin lottum).

The first lottery was held in Rome around 200 BC. Its purpose was to raise money for the city, and winners were given items such as dinnerware. Lotteries continue to be a popular way to raise money for various projects. In the United States, the lottery contributes billions of dollars every year. People play the lottery for fun, and some believe that winning the lottery will allow them to live a better life.

Those who win the lottery must pay substantial taxes, and even those who manage to hold on to most of their winnings often find that they are worse off than they were before they won. It is possible to make money by investing your winnings, but that requires a certain degree of skill.

Americans spend over $80 Billion on lottery tickets each year, but the odds of winning are slim–statistically there is a greater chance that you will be struck by lightning than that you will win the Powerball jackpot! Instead, people should use this money to build emergency savings or pay off credit card debt.