Lottery’s Winners

Published in CSP Daily News

Photographer chronicles convenience retailers who have hit the jackpot

BOSTON -- Americans spent $65.5 billion dollars last year on lottery tickets, and every time a big winning lottery ticket is sold, it makes headlines for the winner.

But rarely reported is what happens to the people who sold the winning tickets, reports the Business Insider. That’s what Boston-based photographer Edie Bresler took as her subject in her ongoing project, titled We Sold a Winner.

Since 2009, Bresler has traveled to small convenience stores all over the Northeast, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and photographed the owners and patrons who continue to frequent the stores.

When stores sell winning lottery tickets, they receive a commission that is a percentage of the prize total, usually 1%. That commission varies greatly from state to state and many state lotteries place a cap on how much commission can be won. Nonetheless, a winning ticket can be just as life-changing for the person that sells it as the person who buys it.

As part of the project, Bresler has been collecting stories from patrons and customers about how the lottery affects them or why they play, the newspaper reports. What she's discovered is a picture of middle class America still struggling mightily against an economy that doesn’t allow them to get ahead.

“This economy has been doing so poorly for so many people, and we talk about it in so many abstract ways,” Bresler told the newspaper. “To many of the [lottery players] I’ve talked to, they’ve been working hard, they’ve been saving, and they still feel like they have nothing or very little to show for it. They just want a good life for them and their family, so they play the lottery. They feel like that’s their only way to get there.”

Click here to see some of Bresler’s photography from the project.