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Top 10 Lottery Films

Playing the lottery may seem like an everyday act, but it has enthralled screenwriters & directors for over 90 years. Not all lottery-themed films managed to hit the jackpot with critics & audiences, but more than a few made their mark on cinema history.

We countdown movies with a lottery twist, from the regrettable to a few real winners.

10. Lottery Ticket (2010)

Bow Wow, Ice Cube, T-Pain, Mike Epps… the cast of Lottery Ticket has more rappers than 8 Mile, but lacks its purpose. Bow Wow plays Kevin, down on his luck and living with his grandma in the projects. He buys a lottery ticket and wins $370 million, but the lottery office is closed for the Fourth of July weekend. Can he keep his newfound wealth a secret from his friends and enemies for the next three days?

9. Lucky Numbers (2000)

Nora Ephron was responsible for some of cinema’s greatest moments with movies like When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. But even the greats can misstep every now and again. In Lucky Numbers, Russ (John Travolta) is a financially-struggling weatherman for a local Pennsylvania TV station. His friend Gig (Tim Roth) convinces him to rig the Pennsylvania Lottery with the help of Crystal (Lisa Kudrow), a model who picks the winning lottery numbers on TV. A seasoned director and a star-studded cast couldn’t save this film. Maybe the film needed Meg Ryan.

8. Lucky (2011)

What if a serial killer won the lottery? Ben is your average guy: he works a steady office job, is in love with one of his co-workers, and just won a $36 million jackpot. Oh, and he also kills young blonde women that resemble the object of his affections. What could possibly go wrong? Colin Hanks, Ari Graynor, and Jeffrey Tambor star in this intriguing, but ultimately uneven black comedy.

7. All About the Benjamins (2002)

Ice Cube, Mike Epps, and Bow Wow must love a lottery-themed movie script, because eight years prior to Lottery Ticket, they were lighting up movie screens as the cast of All About the Benjamins. Tyson Bucum (Ice Cube), a disillusioned bounty hunter, teams up with Reggie (Mike Epps), a con artist, to pursue a group of diamond thieves and a winning lottery ticket. It’s not Academy Award-winning, but it sure is entertaining.

6. Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

William Castle, a true B-movie legend, produced and directed this unique horror gem. The story centres on Sardonicus, a man who robs his father’s grave in order to retrieve a winning lottery ticket and the misfortune that event has on him and others. The film is notable for the use of a gimmick called the “Punishment Poll”, in which the audience decided the fate of one of the characters onscreen.

5. Welcome to Me (2014)

The divine Kristin Wiig plays Alice Krieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder who spends all her time watching talk shows and buying lottery tickets. Alice then wins $86 million in the California Lottery, goes off her medication, and decides to buy her own talk show for $15 million. The show starts out abysmally, but will Alice eventually find her audience and get lucky twice?

4. It Could Happen to You (1994)

Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, and Rosie Perez star in this classic ’90s romantic comedy. Charlie Lang, a NYC police officer, goes to a diner and finds out he doesn’t have enough cash for a tip. He shows Yvonne, the waitress, a lottery ticket and says he’ll split any winnings with her. The ticket ends up being worth $4 million and Charlie decides to keep his word. Unfortunately, his wife Muriel is not so keen on this arrangement. Drama, friendship, new love, and beautiful scenes of New York ensue.

3. Waking Ned (1998)

In a small Irish village, after Ned Devine wins the Irish Lotto, he dies of shock with the lottery ticket still in his hand. The villagers find out and decide to trick the National Lottery into thinking that Ned Devine is alive so they can claim his winnings. The film won several awards and director Kirk Jones was nominated for a BAFTA.

2. Le Million (1931)

With the advent of talkies, movie studios around the world wanted their films to sing. Musicals were all the rage and this French film directed by René Clair is a true gem of the era. The film follows Michel, an artist who wins the Dutch lottery. After remembering that he left the ticket in his jacket pocket, he asks his fiancée Beatrice where she has put the jacket. When he finds out she gave the jacket away, the two of them go on a frantic, musically-infused chase to find the ticket. Along the way, they encounter all of society’s sorts including criminals and opera divas. The film is now part of the Criterion Collection.

1. Greed (1924)

Unfortunately, as is the case with many pictures from the silent era, much of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed has been lost or destroyed. Von Stroheim fought tooth and nail with MGM who made several cuts to his production, editing the film down from its original cut of eight hours to its official release of two hours and twenty minutes. Rick Schmidlin, a film preservationist, combined existing footage with still photographs to try to recreate as much as possible. The production was screened in film festivals and shown on Turner Entertainment in 1999 to unanimous critical acclaim. The film is based on the novel McTeague and revolves around three characters: John McTeague, Marcus Schouler, and Trina. McTeague is an unlicensed dentist, Schouler is his friend, and Trina starts out as Schouler’s cousin and love interest. McTeague soon falls in love with Trina and asks Schouler for permission to court her. McTeague and Trina marry and soon after Trina finds out she has won $5,000 in the lottery. Jealousy, murder, and mayhem ensue leading to a final scene in the unforgiving terrain of Death Valley.

We countdown movies with a lottery twist, from the regrettable to a few real winners.

The 6 Best Movies About Winning the Lottery – The Health Lottery

The lottery captures our imaginations. Winning a jackpot – and deciding how to spend it – makes for a fascinating film plot. We’ve listed the all-time best movies about winning the lottery, so you can feel the thrill of picking a winning ticket (that is, until it really happens to you).

1. It Could Happen to You

Based on an incredible true story, the 1994 film It Could Happen to You stars Nicolas Cage as a New York City police officer and Bridget Fonda as a waitress. The pair end up winning the lottery, splitting the cash and (spoiler alert!) falling for each other. While the premise is based on reality, the true-life twosome didn’t actually fall in love. They do remain friends – and wealthy ones, at that – to this day.

2. 29th Street

Another film based on a true story, 29th Street tells the tale of Frank Pesce Jr. (played by Anthony LaPaglia) who is blessed with the gift of luck from the moment he’s born. In the 1991 film, Pesce’s mother was meant to give birth in one hospital and instead went to another. The first hospital burned down. He continues to be lucky throughout his life in Queens. His father, who is a very hard-working but less fortunate man, gets jealous. The tension comes to a head when Frank Pesce Jr. (played by Danny Aiello) becomes the first winner of the New York State Lottery.

3. Finder’s Fee

In this 2001 drama directed by Jeff Probst, a man named Tepper (played by Erik Palladino) discovers a wallet on the street. He contacts the owner of the wallet (played by James Earl Jones) only to find that inside the wallet is a lottery ticket worth millions of dollars. The action rises when Tepper’s usual poker crew arrives for their regular game, this time with higher stakes than ever before. It begs the question: What would you do with the winning ticket?

4. If I Had a Million

This 1932 classic tells the story of a steel tycoon (played by Richard Bennett) who decides to give one million dollars to each of eight strangers randomly selected from the phone book. This plan isn’t just about altruism: he’s preventing his inheritance from falling into the hands of his greedy family. The lucky recipients include an elderly woman, an entertainer, a marine and an office clerk. While these winners didn’t actually win the lottery, the film shows how each of the recipients use their newfound fortune, and how it impacts their lives.

5. Waking Ned Devine

In this 1998 indie film, two friends, Jackie O’Shea (played by Ian Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (played by David Kelly) learn that an elderly member of their village, Ned Devine, has won the lottery. Jackie and Michael go to visit him at his home but find that the newfound millionaire has died from the shock. The lottery rules require that Ned be the one to claim the award, but the townspeople don’t want to give up the cash. Instead, they join together to convince the inspector that Michael O’Sullivan is, in fact, Ned Devine.

6. Welcome to Me

This 2015 dark comedy starring Kristen Wiig tells the story of Alice Klieg, a young woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who hits it big in the lottery. Flush with her winnings ($86 million, to be exact) Alice stops taking her psychiatric medication and pays for her own talk show, inspired by Oprah. Suffice it to say that the fame-hungry Alice lacks Oprah’s prowess, but her misadventures make for excellent comedy.

After watching these films, you may find yourself tempted to play the lottery yourself. Try your hand at the Health Lottery. With a little luck, your cinematic fantasy might just come true.

Want to daydream about winning it big while playing the lotto? The Health Lottery blog lists our favorite lottery-themed films for your next movie night. ]]>