By now, you may have heard about Crystal Dunn of Louisville, Kentucky. Her behavior this month definitely deserves the publicity it’s received.
On Thursday night, July 7, 2022, as she does from time to time, Crystal placed a bet in an online game, the Kentucky Lottery’s “Bank Buster Jackpot Instant Play.”
She wasn’t expecting her life to change. She knew the odds were long.
But a few seconds later, some surprising news popped up on Crystal’s computer screen: Her $20 wager parlayed into a $146,352 jackpot!
The next day the mother of three collected her winnings and, after taxes, was $103,910 richer.
One of the first things she did was drive to her local Meijer supermarket. After getting the okay of store management, she bought twenty $100 gift cards and, with the help of the grocery store’s employees, handed them out to random strangers.
“I got an unexpected gift,” Crystal later told Kentucky Lottery officials. “I believe in paying it forward, and I wanted to pass it along.”
Lotteries have a long history in America, dating back to colonial times. The first lawful lottery in Kentucky was authorized in December 1792, to raise money to buy land and build a Dutch Presbyterian church in Lexington. Over time, across the nation, lotteries gained a bad reputation for being immoral or for being mismanaged, and by 1860 only Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky still allowed them.
Pictured here are some colorful examples of Kentucky lottery tickets from over the years. We can only wonder if any of their original buyers won big—and if so, did they share their newfound wealth, like Louisville’s big-hearted Crystal Dunn?
Dennis Tucker is the publisher of Whitman Publishing, a leading producer of books, storage and display supplies, and other resources for collectors and hobbyists. He was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel in March 2021 for his career in book publishing and his promotion of the Commonwealth’s status as an important subject in numismatics. His column “From the Colonel’s Desk” explores the Bluegrass State’s rich connections to American coins, tokens, medals, paper money, private currency, and related artifacts. To read more, visit the “From the Colonel’s Desk” archives.