We Sold A Winner

There is a booming economy unfolding in your neighborhood. In 2017 Americans spent over $80 billion seeking to become the next millionaire and family-run convenience and liquor stores are the largest retailers of lottery tickets across the country.

In 2010, I began following the trail of winning jackpots from $1 million to as much as $1.5 billion back to the mom and pop stores where the ticket was sold. I’ve traveled thousands of miles to meet and photograph a diverse group of hard working Americans caught in the wake of a jackpot most say would “solve all their problems.” As income inequality and wage gaps continue to soar, these families are striving to maintain their middle class American dream of owning a business that might provide a better life for their children.

Encroaching big box stores might offer better prices but they can’t match the camaraderie found inside a family-run store. “It's not enough to know the names of the regular customers. You need to be psychiatrist, counselor, confessor, accountant and a good listener.” After selling a winning jackpot, stores acquire a lucky aura, yet that good fortune rarely trickles down. I seek awareness for the people and places whose daily toil is propping up shrinking state budgets yet their contributions to community coffers are easily overlooked and often taken for granted.