Lotteries operate in most states, and the games can be crazy popular -- particularly when there's a monster jackpot.
The average U.S. adult spends about $313 a year on lottery tickets, according to our calculations using data from the U.S. Census. But in some states people tend to spend two or even three times that amount.
Here are the 20 states where residents pour the most money into lottery tickets, counting down to where adults spend an average of nearly $1,000 a year.
We also show how the typical person's lottery money could grow if invested in stocks. The math is based on S&P 500 returns, with dividends reinvested, for 2016 and 2017.
Missouri is known as the "Show Me State" — as in show me the money. In 2016, the average adult here spent $276.96 trying to make their lottery dreams come true.
But if they'd invested that ticket money in stocks instead, they would have had $376.67 at the end of 2017.
The Missouri Lottery was launched in 1986. The largest jackpot ever won in the state was a $293.75 million Powerball prize that went to a Dearborn, Missouri, couple in 2012.
19. North Carolina
Maybe it's fitting that one of the places with soaring lottery spending is the state where the Wright brothers first took flight.
North Carolina's adults spent an average $289.66 each on lottery tickets in 2016. Investing that money in stocks would have given them $393.93 by the end of 2017.
One North Carolina man has had 144 lottery tickets come up winners over the last three years, awarding him nearly $300,000, WNCN-TV reported. It wasn't clear how many total tickets he purchased.
Chicago is home to some of the tallest buildings in the U.S., and Illinois is home to some of the tallest lottery spending. The state's adults forked over an average $289.69 for tickets in 2016.
If they'd put that money into stocks instead, they would have had $393.98 at the end of 2017.
In 1983, the state's first major Lotto winner was a bartender at Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern, which is a place made famous by an old routine on Saturday Night Live. ("Cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger ... No Coke — Pepsi!")
Virginia is for lottery lovers. Adults here spent $293.73 on lottery tickets, on average, in 2016. Investing that money in stocks would have given them $399.48 by the end of 2017.
A Virginia Lottery player got a big surprise when he tried to redeem a Powerball ticket early in 2018. Tom Supp thought he'd won $600, but a lottery employee showed him his ticket was really worth $1 million.
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"I won a hundred bucks on a scratch-off ticket," sings country star Luke Combs in "When It Rains It Pours." Here in the state known for country music, a lot of people try their luck at lottery games.
In 2016, the average adult in Tennessee spent $300.81 on lottery tickets — money that would have grown to $409.10 by the end of 2017 if it had been invested in stocks instead.
A very lucky Tennessee lottery player in 2016 received $528.8 million as one of three winners who split a ginormous $1.59 billion Powerball jackpot. (The others were in California and Florida.)
In Oregon, they "Keep Portland Weird" — and keep buying lots of lottery tickets. The state's adults spent an average $305.95 each on lotteries in 2016.
If they'd invested that money in stocks instead, they would have had $416.09 at the end of 2017.
In 2015, the Oregon Lottery awarded $6.4 million to an unusual winner: a man who came all the way from Iraq with a ticket he'd purchased through a website. The lottery determined he'd done nothing wrong.
"Go Bucks!" is the battle cry for fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes. And maybe it's also what Ohio's high-spending lottery players say when they hand over their dollars to buy tickets.
Adults in Ohio spent $320.96 on lottery tickets, on average, in 2016. If they had put that cash toward stocks instead, they would have had $436.50 at the end of 2017.
Ohio's luckiest lottery player may be Rickey Meng, who had 342 winning tickets pay out almost $957,000 over seven years. He told The (Cleveland) Plain dealer he spent up to $100 a week on lotteries.
Lottery tickets are hot sellers in this warm and sweaty state. Adults in Florida spent an average $361.20 per person on lottery tickets in 2016.
If they had poured that money into stocks instead, they would have had $491.23 at the end of 2017.
Lottery aficionados are good for business at convenience stores, the Florida Lottery says. Frequent ticket buyers spend $6-$10 more when they visit a convenience store than people who don't play.
In the Great Lakes State, people put a great deal of their money into lottery tickets.
Michigan's adults spent an average $367 per person playing lotteries in 2016. If they'd invested in stocks instead, they would have had $499.12 at the end of 2017.
In the mid-2000s, a retired Kellogg's cereal employee discovered flaws in a Michigan lottery game and a similar one in Massachusetts. He and his wife figured out how to exploit the errors — legally — and they earned $7.75 million in profits.
In the state that's home to the Liberty Bell, people tend to spend a fair amount of money trying to crack the lottery.
Pennsylvania adults spent an average $383.71 per person on lottery tickets in 2016. Investing that money in stocks instead would have given them $521.85 at the end of 2017.
One of America's biggest lottery scandals happened in Pennsylvania: In 1980, balls for the state's Daily Number drawing were rigged in a way that made 6-6-6 the winner. The masterminds of the scheme were sent to prison.
10. South Carolina
Nothing could be finer for South Carolina's lottery players than to come up a winner. Adults here spend an average $396.99 a year on tickets, according to the 2016 data.
If they invested that money in stocks instead, they would have had $539.90 at the end of 2017.
In September, a woman won $125,000 in South Carolina's The Voice lottery game and was surprised to learn it was tied in with a TV show. She told officials she bought the ticket solely because she "thought it was an interesting name for a game."
This New England state may be known for the gold, orange and red on its trees in the fall, but Connecticut lottery players like to spend their green.
The state's adults spent $413.05 on lottery tickets, on average, in 2016. If they'd invested in stocks instead, they would have had $561.74 at the end of 2017.
Connecticut says the lottery it introduced in 1972 was the fourth in the nation. In the beginning, tickets cost just 50 cents each. When it was time to celebrate the 40th anniversary in 2012, the state declared its games had done "a lotto good."
In this state famous for its blue crabs, people are willing to spend lots of money to get their claws into a lottery prize.
Maryland adults spent $413.71 on lottery tickets, on average, in 2016. If they'd invested that money in stocks, they would have had $562.65 at the end of 2017.
In 1973, the state awarded its first $1 million prize — equivalent to $5.9 million today — during a "Millionaire Party" for 100 finalists chosen randomly in a drawing. The jackpot winner fainted when his name was called.
7. New Jersey
Residents of the Garden State aren't making the smartest choice for growing their money.
Adults in New Jersey spent an average $449.22 per person on lottery tickets in 2016. If they had invested in stocks instead, they would have had $610.94 at the end of 2017.
New Jersey's very first lottery ticket was sold in December 1970 to Gov. William Cahill. He didn't win — "luckily for the future of the lottery," as The Trentonian put it. Instead, the first $50,000 prize was won by a widow who asked to be anonymous.
Lotteries are just peachy with people in Georgia. (Sorry, we couldn't resist that one.) The state's adults spent $529.71 on tickets, on average, in 2016.
Putting those funds into stocks instead would have given them $720.41 by the end of 2017.
A $1 million Mega Millions winner in Georgia recently lost out on the money when the ticket expired. Officials said the ticket holder never came forward during the 180-day window for claiming the prize.
5. New York
Would New Yorkers ever consider giving up their lotteries? Fuhgeddaboudit!
Adults in the Empire State spent an average $539.63 per person on lottery tickets in 2016. If they'd invested that money in stocks, they would have had $733.90 at the end of 2017.
While New Hampshire was the first state to launch a modern lottery, in 1964, New York boasts that its Lotto is America's oldest lottery game, played continuously since 1967.
The "First State" doesn't rank first for lottery spending, but it's pretty close to the top.
Delaware adults spent an average $548.13 per person on lottery tickets in 2016. If they'd invested in stocks instead, they would have had $745.46 at the end of 2017.
A Delaware man who tried to claim a $5 million Powerball prize from a 2003 drawing said he didn't have the ticket because it went through the wash in his jeans. Courts threw out his lawsuit, so he didn't get the money, Delaware Online reported.
3. Rhode Island
This small state has a big appetite for lottery tickets. Adults in Rhode Island spent $643.54 on lottery tickets, on average, in 2016.
If they'd invested in stocks instead, they would have had $875.22 at the end of 2017.
Rhode Island was one of six states, plus the District of Columbia, that banded together in 1988 to offer big-money jackpots in what would later become Powerball. The game was originally called Lotto America.
2. West Virginia
Very appropriately, West Virginians devote mountains of money toward lottery tickets.
Adults in the Mountain State spent an average $741.40 each playing lotteries in 2016. If they'd put that cash into stocks, they would have had $1,008.31 at the end of 2017.
The story of 2002 West Virginia lottery winner John Whittaker is one of the saddest ever. Most of the construction company owner's $315 million in Powerball winnings were gone within five years, after a run of hardships.
People in Massachusetts are America's biggest lottery spenders, with each person forking over close to $1,000 a year on tickets.
More precisely, the average lottery spend per adult was $977.71 in 2016. If Bay Staters had invested in stocks instead, they would have had a not-too-shabby $1,329.68 at the end of 2017.
Massachusetts boasts that it was the first state to sell instant, scratch-off tickets. When "The Instant Game" debuted in 1974, it had a top immediate prize of $10,000.
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