We Sold A Winner

I look closely at American communities through the lens of state-run lotteries. By focusing on people and places behind this robust Main Street economy, I seek to offer an alternative to the familiar lottery picture of ebullient winners holding a large facsimile check. These are stories of resilence, desire, money and power.  

Most of my photographs are made at small, neighborhood family-run convenience stores and marketplaces where a winning jackpot ticket was sold. After selling a winning ticket, stores become known as lucky, inciting a buying frenzy among local players that produces huge ticket sales. Whether you are pro, con or indifferent, it is likely your community derives a benefit and depends on this revenue. Store owners receive a bonus commission, although the amount depends on the size of the jackpot and state rules. For example, a $200 million winning ticket in Passaic New Jersey resulted in a $10,000 bonus payment for the store owner while an equal prize in Illinois netted its owner $500,000.

I follow the trail of jackpot tickets across the country to see the effects of income inequality and the overlooked people and places experiencing economic hardships. I talk with many small business owners, clerks and players, who are working harder, longer hours without attaining financial security for themselves or their family. I seek to inspire empathy for their stories and resilient American dreams.