Oct 10, 2018

Question of the Day: What percent of Americans bought a lottery ticket in the past year?

Answer: 49%


  • Do you have family or friends who buy lottery tickets? How often do they play? Have they ever won significant jackpots?
  • Do you think buying lottery tickets is a wise financial decision? Why or why not? 
  • Would it surprise you to know that more people buy lottery tickets than invest in the stock market? Why do you think that is? Remember that overall long-term stock market returns are 7-9% annually while lottery tickets have a negative expected value.

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (Gallup): 

Roughly half of Americans say they have bought a state lottery ticket within the last year, similar to the figures recorded in 2003 and 2007, but down considerably from the 57% who said they played the state lottery in 1996 and 1999. This trend has occurred even as the number of states with lotteries grew over this period from 37 states and the District of Columbia to 44.


See how your students fare playing the lottery with this new Interactive: Win the Powerball!


About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Jessica Endlich

When I started working at Next Gen Personal Finance, it's as though my undergraduate degree in finance, followed by ten years as an educator in an NYC public high school, suddenly all made sense.

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