6 Historic Landmarks that Wouldn’t Have Existed Without the Lottery


Great Wall of ChinaPhoto: SmokingPermitted

For those of you who have ever played the lottery and suffered the inevitable losses, here’s a little rationality for your troubles: the hard-earned money you spend on those losing Mega Millions tickets may fund a worthy investment. As a matter of fact, many notable landmarks and institutions might not have existed today if it weren’t for you optimistic lotto players.

Did you know that it’s believed the lottery has been around since as early as the days when Moses walked the earth? The Book of Numbers in the Old Testament reads that he won the land near the River Jordan by playing the local lottery. If that isn’t enough, perhaps this list of endeavors funded by lottery money will pique your interest:

6. Jamestown Colony
Historic Jamestown-39Photo: Webrarian

Barely getting by in the early 1600s, the Jamestown Settlement was suffering from shortening supplies, not to mention constant Indian and Spaniard attacks. In order to replenish food, the colony’s sponsors were given royal permission to hold four lotteries. The plan worked for a while, until 1621, when the Virginia Company lost its lottery franchise due to complaints concerning fraud and the impact it was having on the poor.

5. The British Museum
British MuseumPhoto: Greg Knapp

In the last will and testament of physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane, he bequeathed all 71,000 of his prized objects to King George II. In order to establish a museum to hold all of the objects, British parliament held a lottery and used the money to build it.

4. Westward Expansion in the U.S.
The Long Road HomePhoto: Carl Wycoff

Some call it “manifest destiny”, others would call it the benefits of playing the lotto. Who knows how different the U.S. would have been in the 19th century if George Washington hadn’t decided to construct roads leading to the west? To make the feat possible, he needed a little help from the good people of Virginia, and their hopes of winning big.

3. Ivy League Universities
Harvard Gates, Fall #2Photo: Tim Sackton

Believe it or not, such Ivy League colleges as Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard were all funded with lottery money. You didn’t get accepted? Just tell the administrators your ancestors paid to build the place. That didn’t work? I can’t say that surprises me.

2. The 1976 Summer Olympics
Montreal Olympic TowerPhoto: nessguide

Although Canada was a late-comer to the legalization of the lottery, the athletes of the 1976 summer games in Montreal couldn’t have competed unless Canadian citizens competed in their own game first. That’s right, the lottery.

1. The Great Wall of China
Great Wall of ChinaPhoto: Kyle Simourd

In one of the earliest written accounts of lotteries, Emperor Cheung invented the Chinese Lottery in 200 BC to boost revenue. Today, the Chinese Lottery is better known as the game of Keno. It is widely believed that the Great Wall could not have been built without the income generated from those who played.

So don’t fret if you’ve ever experienced the harsh realities of losing the lottery. Think of it more as an investment than a game of chance or luck, if you believe in that sort of thing. After all, the word “lottery” in Italian translates to “a predestination or unchangeable fate”. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If it isn’t, pat yourself on the back anyway for helping provide some exceptional places and events in history.

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