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The Rule of Drama ensures that nobody will get a legitimate winning lottery ticket and just cash it unless "character wins the lottery" is the core premise of the work (in which case, see Rags to Riches). Traditionally Status Quo Is God kicks in and ensures they either lose or something comes up to make sure they remain in their original financial state.
For example, one character is mistakenly convinced they've won the lottery (or some other big prize, like tickets to a big concert or sporting event) and make an ass of themselves before learning it was a practical joke.
Or, other characters may start lavishing fake love and attention on the lotto winner hoping for a share of the prize, with the exact same humiliating outcome when the ticket turns out to be a loser, or worth far less than previously thought.
In a third and even rarer variant, the ticket will be legit, but will turn out worthless because the characters will spend so much time arguing amongst themselves and not notice the deadline for cashing it in has passed.
See Also: On One Condition
Anime and Manga
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate enters the lottery, loses his grip on the ticket in the wind. Yukiji gives it back to him because it's just a ticket and he's not likely to win anyways. Later when they realize that they've won, Yukiji storms the mansion to try and get it back. While they're fighting, Nagi tosses the ticket into the fire, since it's a tiny sum for her, and they're destroying her mansion. Hayate and Yukiji stop fighting and cry over the ashes.
- In the last arc of Monster, a couple wins and wants to cash the ticket but becomes paranoid as other happenings around town suggest something very bad is going to happen. Surprisingly, the two bringing so many guns ends up helping the good guys as they never get the chance to act on their paranoia and are then just happy to be alive by the end.
- Bibbo Bibbowski from Superman comics actually did win the lottery. Although in his case the ticket was one he found on the street. The ticket was lost by Jimmy Olsen, who was going through a Chew Toy phase.
- In a later issue Mr Mxyzptlk made everyone believe they'd won the lottery.
- more than one "The Bash Street Kids" story (in The Beano) used this trope. Regardless of what else happened, they usually followed the same basic plot: Teacher comes into a lot of money, quits his job (usually doing something to anger the headmaster in the process), then he would end up losing all the money (usually because of the Kids, though not always) and end up having to crawl back to the Head and his old job.
- Comes up once or twice for The Three Stooges.
- 'The Brideless Groom', the favourite of the public domain reprint crowd, features Shemp about to win a large inheritance if he's married. After finding a bride, the ones who rejected him turn up for a brawl.
- Another featured Curly winning a drawing, and the three moving into a ritzy hotel. A Gold Digger or three try to bilk him for all he has. Thne he sees the winnings. After, of course, the natural result of having the Three Stooges in a ritzy hotel room.
- In Bruce Almighty Bruce answers "Yes" to all the prayers in an attempt to get them to shut up and leave him alone. This includes everyone praying to win the lottery. Result? 400,000 lottery winners, each getting about $17. Oops.
- The movie "The Lottery Ticket" is built on this trope.
- Preston Sturges' Christmas in July involves a guy whose coworkers prank him by sending a telegram congratulating him for "winning" $25,000 in a commercial slogan writing contest he's entered...which fools not only him but also the owner of the coffee company sponsoring the contest, who's unaware that the judging committee is still deliberating. In a twist, however, the movie ends with him winning the contest for real.
- The title story of the short story collection Yuck!, by Joe Schrantz, features a woman swallowing a multi-million-dollar winning lottery ticket after a fight with her husband over what to do with the money; the ticket is later recovered from her feces, but is swallowed again by somebody else, which can't be very healthy.
- Requiem for a Dream uses a very dark variant. The protagonist's mother receives a prank call telling her that she's been chosen to be on a TV gameshow. She starts taking and becomes addicted to diet pills to get into shape, which turn out to be uppers. In combination with her isolation, she goes completely off the rails and ends up a shadow of her former self; enough to reduce her old friends to tears.
- One of the Sweet Valley High books has Winston winning the lottery when he mixes up his jacket with a man he met at the convenience store. Jessica and Lila start lavishing Winston with attention. Elizabeth realizes that the jacket does not belong to Winston and convinces him to give the jacket and the ticket back to the old man. Funny how she didn't point out that Winston is 16 and is ineligible to win the lottery, much less buy a ticket.
- The premise of the book "One In A Million". The main character wins the lottery, but before she gets a chance to tell her husband, he announces that he is leaving her for another woman.
- In the Calendar Mysteries book January Joker, Nate says he sent postcards to Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose saying they had won a million dollars in a contest. The three kids seek revenge by creating a Scooby-Doo Hoax.
Live Action TV
- Spanish show Aqui No Hay Quien Viva had a an episode in which a lottery ticket, won by the whole building, (a Christmas tradition) won the (third) price. The community president's wife attempts to convince her husband to keep the money, and Hilarity Ensues. One of the rare examples where the ticket is legit and it does get chashed.
- Are You Being Served, the episode "Goodbye Mr Grainger". Old Mr Grainger resigns after a bad depression, but the depression lifts when he discovers that he won a First Drawing tin the British Lottery. He buys the entire staff farewell gifts, and they discover that he didn't win anything. So they just club the money together that the gifts cost, tell him he just won that much, and manage to intercept his resignation before the Boss reads it.
- The Connor family in Roseanne actually did win the lottery during the final season (at least, until we find out that it, and much that came before it, was All Just a Dream). Commonly considered to be the show's Jump the Shark moment.
- Hey, Dude!: Someone with money wants to invest in the dude ranch; it turns out to be Ted, who left the show last season and has won the lottery in the meantime. He spends most of the episode waving his money around, before the lottery commission finds out at the end that he's under 18, and thus, ineligible.
- In an episode of Kenan and Kel, Kel wins the the Illinois Lottery and $64 million. The ticket is legit, and all arguing is avoided when Kel generously agrees to split the money down the middle with his best friend Kenan. Just before Kenan and Kel head out to cash the ticket, a customer enters the grocery store where Kenan works and insists to be served. In their haste to fill the woman's grocery bags, the duo accidentally places the lottery ticket in the woman's grocery bag, and Hilarity Ensues as they try to get it back from her house. They fail.
- An alternate take on this was featured in an episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Sabrina is allowed access to a crystal ball that can answer any question. Her first question was, oddly enough, "What if Kenan and Kel won the lottery?". We then see a short segment of the two losing the ticket and coming to the conclusion that is was inside a sandwich that Kel just took a bite out of.
- They also had another episode in which they made Chris think he won the lottery as an April Fools joke.
- Inverted in Lost: Hurley, having won a very large pot in the lottery, quits his McJob after his boss mistreats him, and his friend and co-worker Johnny - not aware of the lottery win - quits as well in a gesture of solidarity. Hurley's inability to come clean to Johnny about his newly-acquired riches has more to do with the ruin of their friendship than the riches themselves.
- The Ur-example is probably the classic episode of I Love Lucy where they win a lottery prize, but Lucy leaves the ticket in the clothes that go to the laundry. After they pay off the traffic tickets and everything else, they have nothing to show for their efforts.. except what happened to Lucy while chasing the clothing on a conveyor belt...
- It wasn't a lottery ticket but rather a $1 bill with a serial number selected for a special cash prize.
- On Suddenly Susan, Todd tricks Vicki into thinking she has won the lottery. She quits The Gate after telling everyone in the office what she really thinks of them, and must beg for forgiveness when she learns of the ruse.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - As an act of revenge, Will and Carlton tricks Geoffrey into thinking that he had won the lottery. This leads to Geoffrey leaving as the family's butler, insulting them when he announced his departure. After Phil finds out what had happened, he forces Will and Carlton to convince Geoffrey to return, which he does after Will and Carlton humiliate him during his new job as a waiter.
- Subverted in the pilot of My Name Is Earl- Earl gets a scratchie ticket worth a considerable amount of money (not in the millions, but it may as well be to him), but loses it- part of the chain of events that cause him to discover Karma, and he eventually gets the ticket back and cashes it in.
- Later in the series, Earl gives all of his winnings to the person he believes should have had the ticket - making Earl practically penniless. Randy tries to help Earl by buying another scratch card, but just as they think they're about to win another quarter of a million, they find it is a fake ticket.
- Corner Gas has a variant where Hank actually wins, but only $490. Being Hank, he makes an ass of himself anyway.
- One of Ed's cases involved coworkers who played a practical joke on a co-worker by using a year old lottery TV drawing tape to make him think he had the winning ticket. Unfortunatly before they could tell him it was a joke he told the boss off and quit his job.
- Meet The Browns The Colonel borrows a dollar from Brown (who borrowed it from Cora) and purchases a lottery ticket. It's a $100,000 winner. Brown and Cora want half of the money and soon, they are fighting with The Colonel and his fiancee Edna. Hilarity Ensues. At the end, The Colonel and Edna decide to give Brown and Cora half of the money. The Colonel's winnings were a mere $500. Edna explains that he had to split the jackpot with 199 other people who also had the winning numbers. Brown and Cora's half came to $250. They didn't take the money.
- The Wayans Bros: Marlon wins a trip to the Caribbean. At first, the family is excited because they want to escape the brutal winter that New York is having. Marlon then finds out that the trip is only for two people. This causes the family to shower him with gifts and (obviously) fake love and attention in the hopes of going with him, while they undermine each other. In the end, Marlon gets tired of the attention and decides that being with his family in the cold is more important and gives the trip to Dee because she didn't treat him differently. Of course, the rest of the family now tries to gain Dee's favor, which she relishes.
- On Martin, he and Gina win the lottery and buy all sorts of extravagant things before collecting any of the money. But while they did legitimately win, so did about 300 other people in the largest tie in Michigan Lottery history. Martin and Gina only got a couple thousand out of the whole thing, which wasn't even enough to pay off the things they bought on credit, leaving them a grand in debt.
- The revival of WKRP in Cincinnati did a similar episode; Les even announced the multiple winners story on his newscast, but who ever listens to Les?
- In the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion", the Doctor made a teacher win the lottery in order to investigate a school where the staff members were suddenly replaced.
- In "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor made Kazran's staff win the lottery, even though Sardicktown never had a lottery.
- A winning lottery ticket was the Doctor's wedding present to Donna in The End of Time.
- In "Rose", Rose was delivering money for lottery tickets to one of her shop's chief electrical officer, but some Autons got in the way of that.
- In one episode of "El Chavo", Professor Girafales believed to have won the lottery but Chavo explained that the tickets he bought were good for the day after tomorrow's drawing.
- In an episode of Friends, the characters buy a large number of tickets for a big lottery - and nearly come to blows over what they'd do if they won. In the end, it turns out that not only did none of them win, but despite Rachel's belief that "Somebody has to win," there actually was no big winner. But there was a $10000 win on a ticket they'd lost outside earlier in the episode.
- An early episode of The Steve Harvey Show has Bullethead winning a pair of Chicago Bulls tickets. Sophia, Sara, and Romeo pay a lot of attention to him and treat him nice in the hopes of going to the game with him. In the end, Bullethead chooses to take Steve to the game because Steve didn't treat him differently.
- An episode of Due South had Ray Vecchio and his sister Frannie arguing over a winning lottery ticket, with each claiming it was his or her money that actually bought the ticket (they had each put in $5). In the end no one got the money because the ticket was ruined by chickens pecking at it.
- An episode of Tv Colosso featured Capachão winning the lottery. Several people tried to win his favor until mathematician Ossaldo de Souza announced that each one of the several winners would get only $ 1.50.
- In In the Heights, in the song "96,000," the characters find out that somebody won the lottery, and start fantasizing about what they'd do if they won the money, until Usnavi reminds them that it really isn't enough to do any of the things they're talking about.
- Poor Glen Elg of Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations. He wins the lottery. The ticket isn't fake, it's not a prank, he's won big... and then he gets killed. The loan shark he owed $100,000 was desperate to get a valuable computer virus from him, and if Elg had collected on the ticket, he wouldn't have had to give it up.
- Subverted in the webcomic PvP, when Robbie wins the lottery and quits his job. Everyone on staff expects him to lose his fortune and come crawling back, but he doesn't. Apart from buying a mansion (and keeping all his stuff in one room, since there's no reason to furnish the other rooms) and hiring a butler, he doesn't spend a dime. Instead, he invests the money wisely and even starts a brewery.
- Calamities of Nature points out that you're just as well off throwing that money away as buying a lottery ticket.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, "Super Bowl": Both Carl and Shake are suddenly very nice to Meatwad when he wins two tickets to the Super Bowl in the hopes he'll give the other ticket to one of them. Naturally, neither succeed as Meatwad decides to take Boxy Brown instead. And it turns out Meatwad didn't even go to the game; he got confused and went to a farm instead.
- Rocko's Modern Life, "With Friends Like These": Rocko accidentally wins two tickets to a big wrestling match, and Heffer and Filburt drive him up the wall trying to curry his favor so he'll take one of them. When the day of the match arrives, the two have handcuffed themselves to Rocko and literally dragged him to the stadium, where the wallaby finally snaps, tears the tickets into tiny pieces, and tosses them into the air declaring "Tickets for everyone!". In a bitter irony, Rocko doesn't even like wrestling and probably would have given up both tickets if they'd just asked nicely.
- Done several times on Stroker and Hoop. Here, though, the money Stroker wins is real each time, he just loses it at the end of the episode due to bad luck. He even remarks in one episode, "I have a disturbing trend of not getting paid for doing my job."
- Becky wins big in a lottery in the Tale Spin episode "Your Baloo's in the Mail", but Baloo puts it in jeopardy when he botches cashing it in, as he spends most of the money for the postage on hot dogs and the only service he could afford would arrive long after the deadline.
- In Courage the Cowardly Dog, Eustace won the lottery but because of an earlier robbery from the bank holding the prize money (Done by himself and Muriel while being brainwashed), he only earned 17 cents.
- In one episode of the animated Mother Goose and Grimm, Mother Goose's lottery ticket (the number being 5498666246838409804441989859893259) is announced as a winner. Unfortunately Grimmy ate the ticket, so throughout the episode Mother Goose and Hamm tries to get it out of him, while Dracula (who now works at a grocery store Mother Goose got the ticket from) tries to steal it from them so he can leave the store behind and move back to Transylvania. In the end, when the characters decided to simply give up, it was announced on TV that Mother Goose's number was a mistake and the correct winning number is simply 3, which is the number Hamm had. Unfortunately Hamm gave the ticket to Igor, Dracula's assistant.
- Donald Duck wins a new car in a radio raffle drawing, but due to an error in announcing the winning number, he had thrown his ticket away thinking it was a loser. His nephews hear the correction, realize he's won, and cash the ticket in secret to surprise him. When they show up with the new car, Donald thinks it's a prank and unknowingly destroys his own winnings in a rage.
- One episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is about Twilight getting two tickets to a Grand Galloping Gala, with her five friends trying to butter her up for the 2nd ticket. Unlike the other examples this one ended with everybody, including Spike, getting a ticket.
- At one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield buys a lottery ticket and wins ten million dollars. He and Jon then move into a mansion and Jon even gave an interview. However, when Jon falsely claimed during the interview that he was the one to buy the ticket, an enraged Garfield appeared to make it clear who bought it. Unfortunately, the lotto announcer showed up soon after to inform that, since Garfield is legally too young to buy lottery tickets, he and Jon have to give the ten million dollars to the next winner, who happens to be the very same reporter who was interviewing Jon.
- In The Garfield Show episode "Ticket to Riches", Jon believed to have won 54 million dollars and started a spending spree before even collecting the money. he bought a pizza parlor, a mansion, seven cars (one for each day of the week) and tailor-made suits. He even quit his job. Soon after donating his old clothes to charity, he figured out he forgot the ticket in one of them. They (Jon, Garfield and Odie) fail to rescue them on time but fortunately the ticket was in a pair of pants he didn't donate. Unfortunately, when Jon finally tried to claim the money, he is told that the number "3" at the end of his ticket was actually an "8" covered by some sauce and he won nothing.
- The Jetsons, "Jetson's Millions": Mr. Spacely goaded George Jetson into buying Venusian lottery tickets. One of them became the winning one, earning George ten million (of the Venusian currency), which equaled US$ 7.5 million. Needing a million dollars to save his company from a hostile takeover by a Venusian conglomerate, Mr. Spacely offered George the Vice-President post for it but, before George could convert his prize into American money, a collapse of the Venusian economy rendered the prize worthless and making the Venusian conglomerate bankrupt, thus restoring the status quo.
- Wheel Squad: In one episode, the neighborhood believed they won the lottery but learned their bet wasn't placed on time for that drawing.
- One of the old Popeye cartoons featured Olive Oyl winning a sweepstake. When she told Popeye about it, he imagined themselves living a wealthy lifestyle until she told him she lost the ticket. After all the trouble Popeye went through to recover it, he learned the prize was a pet bird.
- Combo Ninos: In one episode, Diadoro and Gomez released a Divino who manipulates luck. Among the several good fortunes she brought Diadoro, she caused a gust of wind that brought him a winning lottery ticket. When she was defeated, Diadoro's limousine caught fire, burning whatever lottery money he didn't spend.
- Shortly after the UK National Lottery was introduced, a man killed himself because he had failed to buy a ticket and believed that his usual numbers would have won him the jackpot if he had done so. Upon investigation, it was revealed that he would only have won about £60 if he had played. There are probably similar (real and apocryphal) stories for every major lottery in the world.