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Winner: Babs

A big crowd vied for top honors at Main Street last week – 20 players under Daphne’s firm hand, hoping for glory and a week of feeling smart. But in the end only Babs could claim victory. She edged out Eric, Pete and Droppin’, all tied for second place. Our winner was both humble and gracious in victory: “I finally beat those smart-asses,” she gloated. Ouch!

The game was a real mash-up of topless swimsuits, geometry, and Mormon polygamy, but the most interesting, and controversial question was the lottery question.

Good question!: “The Revolutionary War was the first war the U.S. took part in that was partially financed with what?”

(Never mind that the U.S. did not yet exist)

Choices: A. Private money   B. US bonds       C. Levy of taxes     D. Lottery dollars

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Answer: D. Lottery dollars

Imagine George Washington pulling numbered ping pong balls out of a rotating barrel. Probably not. I’m not sure of the exact mechanism employed in that long ago lottery, but history does record their use in funding the war.

Both individual states and the Continental Congress held lotteries. In fact, they had been in use well before the war by the individual states to pay for building of roads and other civic improvements. Harvard and Princeton Universities were partly funded this way as well. England used lotteries to raise funds starting as early as 1612 to help found the Virginia colony. Although the lotteries certainly played a part in raising funds, they were not overly successful, probably because they were viewed as a kind of tax. And, as you may remember, taxes were a sore subject with the colonists.

Lotteries continued to exist after the Revolutionary War, but by the late 1800s had an unsavory reputation for mismanagement and fraud. They were banned by the US government in 1900. But as all of us who bought chances for the record Powerball payout of 1.5 billion in January know, they’re back.

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It turns out that George Washington was personally involved in the lottery, hoping for a big score himself. Rare lottery tickets signed by him still exist, and are worth about $15,000 today. Now that’s a winner.

A favorite lottery movie is “Waking Ned Divine” where an elderly gent dies from the shock of winning the lottery, only for his closest friends in their tiny Irish village to rally round and prevent the news of his death spreading too far, so they can attempt to claim the money. If you are headed to Ireland next month, you will want to watch this one:

blogger’s note: this post was carefully crafted by Droppin’ Dave. thank’s Dave.

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