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01 April 2015

From Ben Afleck To Peter Griffin - On-Screen Lottery Winners

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Last week we revealed an upcoming EastEnders lottery storyline where a major character wins a large jackpot on a scratchcard. It’s hardly a new concept, lottery wins are a common plot in TV and movies, so common, in fact, that we’ve decided to write a follow up to our previous post on the subject.

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Lottery Themes In TV


In an episode called “The One With The Lottery” the Friends gang get lottery fever after Phoebe’s psychic predicts that they will win the lottery. In the end even sceptic Ross is won over. However they soon begin squabbling as to how to divide the winnings causing Phoebe to throw the tickets away. (She should have bet online with Lottoland!)

The Office

In the US adaptation of The Office a syndicate of warehouse workers won a large jackpot and weren’t subtle in their celebration. They ran through the office and mooned fellow staff members before quitting their jobs. The rest of the staff are dismayed and, with no warehouse workers to fulfil a large order, are forced to do the heavy lifting themselves.

Family Guy

Last time around we talked about when Springfield got a dose of lottery fever, but it’s not the only animated town to experience it. In the town of Quahog, Rhode Island, Family Guy Peter Griffin got such a severe dose that he ended up sending his family to the poorhouse, having spent every single penny they had on tickets. One of those tickets proved to be a winner, however, and the Griffins became overnight millionaires.

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Of course Peter Griffin is not a man known for his smart investments. I mean how much do you think the Petercopter and the Hindenpeter set him back?  Indeed smart isn’t a word that one can readily apply to Peter Griffin, unless you’re talking about his smart-ass comments. So it should come as no surprise that he blew all his family’s winnings thus ensuring everything was back to normal the following week. Well, normal for the Griffins anyway.

Winning Numbers: 3, 31, 0, 8, 44, 17

The Lottery

In a storyline no doubt inspired by the success of the Children of Men movie adaptation, this American TV series is set in a dystopian future where a pandemic of infertility has ravaged the planet. In America only 100 human embryos exist in the hands of the “Department of Humanity” – who use a lottery system to divine who shall give birth to the children. The show’s grim subject matter was perhaps the reason it only ran for one season.  

Cold Case

In an episode called “Lotto Fever” the Cold Case team investigate a mechanic who, having won the lotto, seems to have spent all his money before winding up shot. It’s not the first time lotteries and whodunnits were combined. In “Death Hits The Jackpot” Columbo investigates a man who, while going through a bad divorce, wins the lottery and ends up murdered – though obviously Columbo gets to the bottom of it all.

Lottery Themes In Movies

Willy Wonka/Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Lotteries aren’t meant to be played by minors, but chocolate-coated nutcase Willy Wonka didn’t care – he hid a handful of golden tickets inside his famous Wonka chocolate bars and those lucky enough to find one got treated to a tour of his ultra-secret Chocolate Factory – with hilarious consequences. The classic Roald Dahl book remains a firm children’s favourite for over half a century and was the subject of both a 1971 movie with Gene Wilder and another with Johnny Depp in 2005, directed by Tim Burton.


Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Based on a short story by sci-fi master Phillip K Dick (on whose works movies like Bladerunner, Total Recall and Minority Report are based) Paycheck is a fiendishly clever sci-fi techno thriller starring Ben Afleck. As with much of Phil K’s work it involves plenty of time-based paradoxes that – spoiler alert – results in the main character being able to predict a future lottery draw!

Winning numbers: 17, 44, 4, 26, 37, 40, 22

Lucky Numbers

Friends star Lisa Kudrow is back in another lottery story, this time starring alongside John Travolta. Lucky Numbers is a black comedy about a broke and morally dubious weatherman looking for a way to rig the state lottery so he can pay back his debts and come out rich on the other side. As you can expect not everything goes quite according to plan. Well worth watching if you fancy a few giggles.

Winning numbers: 22, 70, 16, 9, 27, 07


In this black comedy protagonist Ben’s lifelong infatuation for co-worker Lucy is finally reciprocated after he claims a $36 million state lottery win. Only there’s a slight snag – Ben’s a serial killer who killed, among others, the really lottery winner. And when Lucy finally discovers this things get a little complicated, to say the least.

Waking Ned

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Ned Devine wins the lottery – then immediately dies of shock. His best friends decide that his good fortune need not die with him and therefore set out to claim the winnings “in his memory” by defrauding the lottery inspectors. Think Weekend at Bernies meets Father Ted as protagonist Michael and his friends go to hysterical lengths to sustain the illusion that Ned is alive and well in a small, nosy Irish village. The movie stars James Nesbitt and veteran Irish actor David Kelly – who also starts in the 2005 Willy Wonka adaptation, but is probably best known to British audiences as the bumbling builder O’Reilly in Fawlty Towers.

Winning numbers: 19, 40, 4, 7, 25, 29 

Lotto Land

Yup, we’re so amazing they made a movie about us! Well, ok, you got me – this movie came out in 1995 and has nothing to do with us, other than having a similar name and featuring a lottery win as a plot device. Lotto Land was an independent movie set in the mean streets of New York combining an often-gritty setting with themes about following your dreams and finding love. To quote the movie, “if you can buy your dream for a dollar, that's all it's worth, ain't it?” We couldn’t agree more.

It Could Happen To You

Lottery Themes In TV & Movies

Perhaps one of the best-known movies about a lottery, It Could Happen To You stars Nicolas Cage as a cop who, having been caught short changed at a diner, offers to pay his waitress (played by Bridget Fonda) with a lottery ticket on the promise that, should his numbers come up, he’ll split the win. After the numbers do come up Cage decides to honour his promise – much to annoyance of his wife (played by tempestuous squawk-box Rosie Perez). If you haven’t seen the movie you should check it out – it’s a funny and touching story about greed versus integrity and finding true love.

Winning numbers: 6, 12, 16, 26, 64, 08