Investing is not so different from playing the lottery – just less fun

Many who sneer at the national lottery – now turning 25 – will coolly hand large sums to a smooth fund manager

“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for staying alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seem capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts and lucky amulets.”

That was George Orwell’s take on lotteries in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and, to some extent, lottery detractors today still have that rather sniffy view of players. Still, despite the UK national lottery, which will be 25 years old on Tuesday, frequently being dubbed a “tax on the stupid”, it proves that multimillion-to-one shots do happen.

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