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Has anyone ever prayed and won the lottery?

Many people who play the lottery also pray or wish for the winning numbers. The dream of instantly becoming a millionaire is powerful motivation. But does praying actually increase someone’s chances of winning the jackpot? Let’s take a look at what research and statistics can tell us.

Do prayers impact lottery odds?

The odds of winning the lottery are extremely low. For example, the chance of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is about 1 in 302 million. The odds are purely based on random number selection. So mathematically speaking, praying alone cannot increase or decrease your chances of getting all the numbers right. The lottery draw does not know or care if players have prayed for the winning combination.

However, some people feel that prayer helps them think positively about the lottery. The ritual gives them hope. So in that sense, prayer may motivate some lottery players and make the experience more meaningful. But the actual probabilities remain unchanged. Faith does not override mathematics in this instance.

Do some numbers come up more often?

Many people pray for “lucky” numbers to be selected. They may choose special dates, like birthdays, anniversaries, ages of loved ones, etc. Or they use numbers with personal symbolic meaning. But lottery draws are completely random. All number combinations have exactly the same probability of being chosen in any given draw.

Some numbers may appear more often over a short period due to natural variations in random selection. But over time, all numbers will be chosen about equally often. For a game like Mega Millions with 75 numbers available, praying for any specific combination is not likely to make it come up faster. The laws of probability say that all numbers and combinations are equally likely in each draw.

Statistics on Lottery Winners Who Pray

It’s difficult to gather comprehensive statistics on how many lottery winners prayed for their lucky numbers. A lottery win is usually a very personal thing that winners may or may not share publicly. However, we can look at a few examples of major prize winners who did attribute some part of their win to prayer and faith.

Notable examples

  • Cindy Hill won half of a $587 million Powerball jackpot in 2012. She and her husband Mark were faithful believers, and Cindy commented that she had prayed for years to win the lottery.
  • Onavia Buol won a $25 million jackpot in 1995. She thanked God for answering her prayers to end her family’s financial struggles.
  • Eugenia Qualsee Taylor prayed the night before purchasing her winning ticket for a $119 million Powerball prize in 2000.
  • Mavis Wanczyk won a $758 million Powerball jackpot in 2017, the largest ever won by a single ticket. She attributed her win in part to prayer, saying, “I prayed so heavenly Father give me a piece of your kingdom before I leave this earth.”

These examples show that some people do feel prayer influenced their lottery fortunes in a positive way. However, for every winner that prays, there are millions more who pray fervently but do not win anything. Media reports tend to highlight prayer in connection with lottery wins because it makes for an appealing story. But statistically most prayers for lottery fortunes go unanswered.

Survey data

A 1999 Gallup poll found that 37% of American lottery players had prayed to win the lottery. More recently, a poll by the National Opinion Research Center indicated that about half of American adults who buy lottery tickets have prayed to win.

These surveys confirm that praying for the lottery is reasonably common among devoted lottery enthusiasts. But the percentage who attribute a win to prayer is likely much smaller. With the overwhelming odds involved, even regular prayer is no guarantee of success. But some players may feel prayer helps them think positively or reduces anxiety about playing.

Factors in Winning Lotteries

While prayer alone doesn’t change the odds, other factors can increase someone’s chances of winning the lottery. These are more grounded in practical actions than faith or luck.

Buy more tickets

Simply buying more tickets in a single draw gives a player more number combinations to match the draw results. Buying 100 tickets rather than 1 gives you 100 times more chances to win. Of course, this costs more upfront as well. But it does directly improve your probability compared to only playing a single ticket.

Join a lottery pool

Joining an office or online lottery pool allows you to purchase more tickets at reduced individual cost. More tickets equals better odds, and pooling money lets you buy in bulk. Winnings get split, but some chance is better than no chance.

Use lottery wheeling systems

Lottery wheeling systematically generates a set of number combinations to play based on mathematical formulas. By playing hundreds or even thousands of combinations at once, your chances of winning increase. Wheeling requires some extra effort but does give players an advantage.

Stick to your strategy

Consistency is key – to win, first you have to play. Picking the same set of numbers every draw or using a wheeling system shows commitment. One-off prayers may help mentally but a disciplined strategy over time improves your probability more substantially.

Factor Effect on Odds of Winning
Prayer alone No increase
Buying more tickets Direct increase
Lottery pools Slight increase
Lottery wheeling Significant increase
Committed strategy Potential increase over time

This table summarizes how different lottery methods can or cannot improve your overall chances. Prayer doesn’t change the probability math. But approaches like wheeling do give advantages worth considering.

Famous Lottery Winners and Prayer

As we saw earlier, some prominent lottery winners do feel prayer helped pave their way to millions. Here are a few more big jackpot winners and their connections to faith.

Jim McCullar

Jim McCullar holds the record for the largest ever lottery jackpot won by a single ticket buyer. In 2002, he claimed a $315 million Mega Millions prize. A devout Christian, he donated much of his fortune to his church and charities. McCullar stated his prayer was simply for God to allow “thy will be done”.

Pedro Quezada

In 2013, Quezada won a $338 million Powerball jackpot, the fourth largest ever at the time. A practicing Catholic, Quezada reportedly prayed the night before his big win based on a feeling luck was coming his way.

Gloria MacKenzie

At age 84, Gloria MacKenzie collected a $590 million Powerball check, then the largest single-ticket jackpot. She credited decades of prayer and belief in God for her record-breaking reward from playing the lottery.

Marie Holmes

Single mother Marie Holmes won $188 million playing Powerball in 2015. She had prayed earnestly for a miracle to get her out of financial hardship. Her prayers seemed answered beyond belief when she hit the jackpot.

These and other faith-filled lottery winners show that prayer can remain meaningful, even if it doesn’t objectively sway the odds. For some devotees, prayer helps psychologically while playing an uncertain game of chance.

Perspectives on Prayer and Winning Lotteries

For spiritual individuals, praying to win the lottery may seem natural or even uplifting. But from a logical standpoint, does prayer really fit with the randomness inherent in lottery drawings? Let’s examine some philosophical perspectives.


If you believe fortunes are predestined or that God has a master plan, prayer could theoretically influence events and outcomes. Winning the lottery could be part of “God’s plan” that prayer helps actualize. Of course, this raises tricky questions about why hardship and poverty also exist.

Law of Attraction

New Age philosophies propose visualizing desired outcomes attracts them through spiritual laws of the universe. Prayer could be seen as focused visualization that brings lottery success into your reality. Skeptics argue there is no scientific evidence for this metaphysical perspective.

Gambler’s Fallacy

Mathematically, each lottery draw is a discrete random event unaffected by past draws or external factors like prayer. Any perceived patterns are just natural variations. So prayer for specific numbers is no more likely to succeed than any other combination.

Existential View

Our existence has no inherent meaning besides what we assign it. Playing the lottery gives purpose to some through hope, however remote the odds. Prayer rituals give further meaning to their lottery activities. Even unanswered, prayer is meaningful.

Which view resonates with you likely aligns with your existing spiritual beliefs. Prayer could reinforce purpose amid uncertainty and chance but doesn’t override probability math.

Can Science Explain Answered Prayers for Lotteries?

For all the lottery prayers offered, only a tiny fraction seem to come true. Can science hint why some prayers appear answered when the vast majority are not? Let’s review a few possible explanations through scientific lenses like psychology and neuroscience.

Coincidence and Misremembering

Our memories are unreliable. Some lottery winners may selectively remember praying when they did not consistently. Coincidental timings get imbued with meaning after the improbable fact. Post hoc attribution assigns prayer special power after a win.

Confirmation Bias

Wins attributed to prayer get noticed and shared far more than fruitless prayers. This creates an impression that prayer impacts lotteries when unanswered prayers are forgotten or ignored. Lottery organizers have no incentive to highlight unsuccessful prayers.

Gambler’s Fallacy

Humans struggle to grasp true randomness, seeking patterns in arbitrary outcomes. Wins seem non-random if prayer preceded them. In truth, lottery odds remain fixed no matter what rituals are performed. Perceived luck is just short-term clusters in random distribution.

Neurochemical Reward

Prayer and meditation release dopamine, activating the brain’s reward system. This chemical high reinforces and incentivizes the praying behavior, even if the lottery odds are unaffected. Prayer makes playing feel meaningful despite overwhelming mathematical odds.

Rather than divine intervention, scientific explanations involving psychology and neuroscience may account for why occasional lottery prayers appear “answered”. The human mind seeks and perceives more meaning than pure statistics would suggest.

Ethical Considerations of Praying for Lottery Wins

With long odds of winning, should prayer focus on more meaningful pursuits than lottery luck? Let’s explore some ethical dimensions around praying and lotteries.

Opportunity Cost

Time spent praying about lotteries cannot be spent praying for “higher” purposes like health, relationships or world peace. If prayer has a finite impact, lottery wishes could be seen as squandering potential.

Gambling Morality

Most major religions discourage materialism and gambling. Praying to win millions could be considered inappropriate or inconsistent with religious values favoring charity and moderation.

Pareto Principle

The 80/20 rule states 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. Applied to prayer, 20% focused on spiritual growth could be more “effective” than 80% wasted on long-shot lottery wishes. Less could ironically achieve more.


Some argue lottery prizes are “undeserved” windfalls vs. rewards for talent and effort. Prayer gives an illusion of control and earned success. In truth, lotteries are disconnected from merit. Does prayer make this less ethically uncomfortable?

Reasonable points exist on both sides. In moderation, prayer rituals may enhance lottery enjoyment without detracting from nobler aims. But taken too far, prayers for mega millions could misplace spiritual focus and priorities.


In summary, prayer has clear psychological and emotional impacts on lottery players who actively engage their faith. Rituals build hope and reinforce the feeling of participation in uncertain games of chance. But no scientific or statistical evidence suggests prayer objectively improves random lottery probabilities. While sense of purpose matters, prayer is unlikely to overcome the astronomical odds inherent to lottery mathematics. For true advantage, more practical strategizing likely brings better returns on investment than abstract appeals to supernatural chance. While proving elusive, the dream of instant riches continues to motivate lottery prayers for eager, faith-filled players seeking to align spiritual and financial fortunes.