Episode 676: The First Lottery & How To Beat The Odds : Planet Money The first lottery was a royal affair with poems, golden flatware and invited criminals. Also, how someone won the lottery over and over.
NPR logo Episode 676: The First Lottery & How To Beat The Odds

Episode 676: The First Lottery & How To Beat The Odds

Planet Money tries to hit the jackpot. Shane McKeon/NPR hide caption

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Shane McKeon/NPR

Planet Money tries to hit the jackpot.

Shane McKeon/NPR

A version of this episode originally ran in January 2016.

Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot is the largest in history at $1.6 billion. And we've got lottery fever again.

Today on the show, the story of the first known lottery. It goes back to Queen Elizabeth in 1567, involves poems, gold plates, and petty criminals. It didn't go well. And we have the story of lottery legend Stefan Mandel. He created a system to take the luck out of the lottery and won jackpot after jackpot. He tells us how he pulled it off. (Think bank heist but legal.)

Music: "Zoom In Zoom Out."

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