Everybody dreams about winning the lottery, so it tends to come up in movies pretty often. The lottery—especially lottery winners—make a great dramatic plot point. People love stories where the underdog comes out on top, but how well does Hollywood handle this particular phenomenon? Here’s our take on three movies about lottery winners:
It Could Happen to You (1994)
Nicolas Cage plays down-on-his-luck cop, Charlie Lang, without so much as a penny to spare. In lieu of a tipping waitress Yvonne Biasi (played by Bridget Fonda), he offers half the value of the lottery ticket in his pocket. When it turns out to be a $4 million dollar winning ticket, Lang’s wife is determined to keep the money all for herself.
This story is loosely based off real events. A cop once promised his regular waitress half of his lottery ticket winnings instead of a tip, and went on to win $6 million.
Verdict: While Hollywood loves to play up the tension, drama, and romantic elements of any story, in reality the cop and his wife split the money with the waitress and her husband. Of course, such a happy ending wouldn’t make for a great Hollywood script so the story was altered for maximum drama. In the end it’s a great film and the essential lesson is left in tact: that the goodness and charity of the human spirit might surprise you.
Waking Ned Devine (1998)
A remote Irish village learns that one of their own has won multi-millions in the National Lottery. In a town so small that everyone knows everyone else’s business, a colorful cast of characters sets out to figure out who the winner could be. When it is discovered that elderly Ned Devine possessed the winning ticket, and promptly died from the shock of learning he had won, Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelley) must convince the lottery representative that Ned Devine is still alive in order to claim the prize for themselves and their whole village.
Verdict: Packed full of off-beat humor and unlikely twists and turns, this film is a treat to watch—but it’s not meant to be an accurate depiction of winning the lottery. Instead, the lottery winnings are used as a reward for the small village inhabitants who band together and support one another in their goofy, over-the-top scheme.
Lucky Christmas (2011)
Single mom Holly (Elizabeth Berkley) seems to be perpetually unlucky, until she buys a lottery ticket that happens to be a winner. When she leaves the winning ticket in the glove compartment of her car, which is “borrowed” by the bumbling but well-meaning Mike (Jason Gray-Stanford), a scramble ensues to return the winning ticket to its rightful owner. Lucky Christmas combines entertaining silliness with some down-to-earth heartfelt moments to produce a touching holiday film.
Verdict: You might be thinking, “Who would leave their winning lottery ticket in their glove compartment?” But the loss of lottery tickets is actually a common problem. Many millions of dollars go uncollected each year from these unfortunate losses, so the plot of the movie may not be as unlikely as it seems. While the way in which the ticket is lost, and eventually returned, is exaggerated, it’s not entirely unbelievable. Too bad Holly didn’t have the AutoLotto app to keep all her tickets in one place.
Feature Image: Carolyn Franks / Shutterstock.com