The lottery was first used by the Continental Congress to raise funds for the Colonial Army. Alexander Hamilton wrote that a lottery should be simple and straightforward so that people would be willing to risk small sums for a large reward. The lottery was also used to fund many public projects, including roads, bridges, and libraries. The lottery also financed colleges such as Princeton and Columbia Universities. The Academy Lottery was a popular lotto game in Pennsylvania, and rare tickets bearing the signature of George Washington sold for $15,000 in 2007. In 1769, George Washington worked as a manager for Col. Bernard Moore’s “Slave Lottery,” which offered slaves and land as prizes.
Lotteries have been around for thousands of years. Chinese Han Dynasty lottery slips were found as early as 205 BC. These slips were believed to have helped finance important government projects, such as the Great Wall of China. In the early Roman Empire, there were also records of lotteries, though these were only intended as entertainment at dinner parties. One record from L’Ecluse mentions a lottery that drew 4304 tickets for a prize of 1737 florins (US$170,000 in 2014).
In the United States, lottery winnings are not paid out as a lump sum. A winner may elect to receive an annuity or a one-time payment. However, a one-time payment will usually be less than the advertised jackpot because of the time value of money and income tax. Depending on jurisdiction and type of investment, lottery winners may only pocket about a third of the advertised jackpot.