Playing the lottery offers people the opportunity to get a fresh start to life. While money may not buy happiness, it can definitely fix some ardent day-to-day issues for good, which is why both the rich and the poor try their luck in the world’s biggest jackpots.
While the motif of the lottery winner has vastly been used in the film industry, there are only few movies that have explored the complexity of the lottery industry. For our list, we have selected five movies that delve into some of the most important aspects regarding the lottery concept. Each of them tells a very different story centered on what it is like to be chosen from among millions of people for the chance of a lifetime.
1. It Could Happen To You (1994)
“Fairytales can come true, it could happen to you, if you’re young at heart” sings Frank Sinatra in the title song of this 1994 film. It Could Happen To You is a true modern fairytale about a cop with a true heart of gold who chooses to honor the promise he made to a waitress that as a tip he would pay her half of his lottery winnings, whichever these may be. To his surprise, he does win the lottery and the tip amounts to a whopping $1 million, which he eventually gives to the waitress despite the inevitable criticism. His decision ultimately changes his life in this romance-filled story about staying true to your beliefs in spite of everything.
2. Welcome to Me (2014)
Winning the lottery is something we all aspire to because it promises to fulfill our wildest dreams. But are we truly ready to deal with the reality of our dreams come true? This is the main idea explored in Welcome to Me. Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a young woman who wins the Mega Millions lottery and decides to make her very own TV show about herself. Will she be the next Oprah Winfrey or will she be just another Tinseltown fallen star? Find out in this unexpectedly complex story.
3. The Lottery (2010)
This 2010 documentary feature is built upon an entirely different type of lottery. Focused on the fundamental flaws of the American education system, the film follows four young boys from Harlem and the Bronx who poor all of their hope into lottery tickets promising them a better education for a brighter future. The grand prize in this lottery is a spot in an American charter school and thousands of hopeful children participate in this raffle for a better chance at a successful future.
4. Twenty Bucks (1993)
Twenty Bucks is an iconic 90’s film developed around a very interesting premise; it follows the course of a $20 bill from the moment it is released from an ATM and all the way to its inevitable destruction. During this time, it passes from hand to hand from a homeless woman convinced that the code on the bill holds the winning numbers to the lottery, to an aspiring young writer, two very odd thieves, a stripper, and many others. Unaware that they are connected by this $20 bill, these characters go through a very long series of unfortunate and unexpected events.
5. The Hunger Games (2012)
This action-filled science fiction movie explores a completely different idea about the lottery. In a dystopian future, a yearly raffle is conducted to determine 24 unlucky participants in The Hunger Games, a merciless fight to the death made for the entertainment of the privileged part of society living in the Capitol. This annual feast of carnage is aimed to repress any existing idea of rebellion in the 12 Districts of Panem and maintain a seemingly peaceful relationship between the rich and the poor. The film follows the path of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who volunteers as a participant in the Hunger Games to save her little sister from a very violent death. She quickly discovers that an impossible situation calls for ruthless measures and her actions will eventually shape the future of Panem.
Each of these films takes on a very different approach to the concept of the lottery, thus pointing out the complexity of this staple of modern society. Can overnight wealth truly live up to the impressively high standards we have raised for it? The only way to find out is by playing the lottery yourself. Remember that it only takes one winning ticket to become an instant millionaire. Good luck!