The $70 billion that Americans spend playing the lottery each year is more than they spend on movies, music and porn combined, says photographer Edie Bresler, whose ongoing project called “Lottery Economies” explores the trickle-down effects of all that lottery spending. Media coverage “typically highlights big winners and annual revenues generated for education and other essential services, but finding tangible effects in communities is elusive,” she says. “I focus on lottery stories not part of the usual hyperbole. A lot of these stories happen in small family-run convenience stores and marketplaces where lottery tickets are sold.” Stores that have sold winning tickets, such as Azores Discount Tobacco in Fall River, Massachusetts (above), are perceived by lottery players as “lucky.” Bresler says she photographs these stores “during the fleeting moments of twilight to evoke the tenuous seduction of hope and desire that accompanies the purchase of every ticket.” More work from “Lottery Economies” and related projects can be viewed on Bresler’s Web site and blog.
Fast Freddie’s (Wakefield, MA) received a $50,000 commission in 2009 for selling a scratch ticket worth $10,000,000. At the time, it was the largest payout for a scratch ticket in the nation. ©Edie Bresler
Harry Patel with his family inside Jay’s, a convenience store in Lowell, MA. He has sold two winning $1,000,000 scratch tickets in the last 5 years, and customers consider his store very lucky. ©Edie Bresler
Denise, the manager at Motomart in Red Bud, Illinois (pop. 3,683) received a $25,000 bonus from her employers after the store sold one of three winning tickets for a $640 million MegaMillions jackpot. She used the money to buy a bassoon for her husband, who had always dreamed of learning to play the instrument. ©Edie Bresler