How can I improve Which philosophers contend that astronomical lottery jackpots (> $2M USD) are unfair? ? How can I recast it, to render in on topic ? Thank you for your assistance!

My question is topical, because it appertains income inequality and equality. Bestowing $70E6 on one person worsens (income, wealth) inequality than bestowing $1 million (= $70E6/70) on 70 people.

Income inequality is on topic here.

Is saying "There would be no rich without the poor" a false dichotomy?
How can political philosophy and moral philosophy differ in the context of moral limits on the market?
Was Robin Hood's point of view ethically sound?
How can one argue against income inequality while defending achievement and expertise inequality - beyond invoking Rawls' difference principle?

So is the notion of equality.

Is "equality" an virtue in itself or a derivative of envy?
Why are equality and fairness valued so highly?
Why is equality assumed to be good?

Original submission

I forgot the name of the philosopher who argued in the same vein as follows ― anyone remember? Postulate that nobody truly needs > $2 million USD. Lotteries ought to award lower jackpots, but offer higher probabilities of winning jackpot ― because astronomical (> $2M USD) jackpots are unjust!

Compared to American whopping jackpots, Canada's "top national lottery prize payout is $70 million for Lotto Max, so it’s more a question of who has been winning $70 million lately. For Lotto 6/49, the jackpot cap is $68 million."

1 person does not need to win 1 billion dollars. How about giving 20,000 people $50,000? A $50,000 check would change the lives of so many more people than 1 person who will statistically go bankrupt after spending all the money beyond their means.

instead of just making a few people ridiculously rich, wouldn't it much more beneficial to spread out the prize money over a larger number of people?

DAE feel like the powerball lotto should change their odds of winning so that more people win smaller jackpots? I mean 2.04 BILLION dollars for one person is asinine.

instead of giving 1 person 100 million, (which lets face it nobody needs that much) why not make 100 people millionaires? Its still a life changing amount and you'd have 100 wealthy people with more money to spend, possibly using it to set up businesses and creating jobs, rather than having 1 person who is obscenely wealthy and with more money than they know what to do with.

Why doesn't the lottery give $1 million each to 500 tickets drawn at random, instead of $500 million to one ticket drawn at random? Would be a better system in many ways.

I assume a lottery would be much more interesting when they give out $100,000 to 500 people instead of 50 million to one person. Many people’s financial situation will improve drastically with $100,000 but 50 million will give the winner a lot of trouble.

I just find it disgusting that there's just billions of dollars waiting for one person to win.

I ask for philosophical arguments, NOT economic analysis. I know that

18 All state lottery authorities hire mathematicians to determine the profiles of the ticket populations, but it is unlikely that any of the tickets are purchased by mathematicians. Those in the know refer to a lottery as a "tax on those who are bad at math".

ticket sales increase with the advertised jackpot"

Jackpot size has a greater impact than expected price as a determinant of lottery sales suggesting that agents exhibit irrational lotto mania.

"One of the reasons [for those changes] was to get larger jackpots, to drive up higher jackpots and generate additional interest in the games,” Teja stated.

There was also an increase in the growth rate of lottery ticket sales based solely on the aesthetics of the number $100 million. According to economic theory, there should not be an increase in lottery ticket sales based on the aesthetics of a number.

  • I'm not sure if this is an issue, but the copious links to Reddit may be part of it. In fact, most of your question is simply links (not an off-topic issue, but I've noticed on the Physics.SE, folks will cast votes to close on a question already in doubt for secondary reasons). Just a guess though, I'm relatively new here.
    – Hokon
    Sep 19, 2023 at 1:08
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    @Hokon Please go ahead and edit my post. Please revamp my Reddit links. I quoted Reddit to substantiate the glut of people who agree with me.
    – user67862
    Sep 19, 2023 at 6:13
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    I suggest defining or redefining the word "unfair" in a philosophical context. Gambling fairness and how games of chance are engineered is far more about appealing to human psychology. Anyone who purchases a Lotto ticket has the same "fair" chance as any other ticket buyer. Remember that the personal reason for buying a ticket IS the promise of the income inequality that you are addressing upon winning. Sep 20, 2023 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


The theoretical relevance of the question could be laid out a little more explicitly of course — some reference to whatever philosophical conception of justice you might be working with would be useful. I appreciate there is sometimes a chicken and the egg sort of problem here — if you don’t know the philosophers or associated philosophical positions in the first place, maybe a simpler question asking after What are some of the various strategies philosophers have used to explain “what justice is”? could be more successful. You would likely at least get some explanations that refer to justice as fairness and so may shed light on the original question. It is philosophy — you may have to be more oblique than usual, while staying persistent and direct about what the actual underlying conceptual problem is in your own mind.

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