Edie Bresler: We Sold a Winner looks at the stores that sold winning lottery tickets around the country (PHOTOS).

All These Stores Sold Winning Lottery Tickets

All These Stores Sold Winning Lottery Tickets

Behold
The Photo Blog
Dec. 2 2014 10:17 AM

All These Stores Sold Winning Lottery Tickets

Amar, owner and proprietor of Neighborhood Market in Somerville, MA, sold a winning $1,000,000 scratch ticket. He used the $10,000 bonus commission to make a down payment on a house nearby, where he still lives with his wife and 2 daughters.
Amar, Neighborhood Market. Amar, owner and proprietor of Neighborhood Market in Somerville, Massachusetts, sold a winning $1 million scratch ticket. He used the $10,000 bonus commission to make a down payment on a house nearby, where he still lives with his wife and two daughters.

Edie Bresler

Shortly after the economic crisis in 2008, Edie Bresler began noticing lottery tickets littering her neighborhood just outside Boston. She followed them back to the source and found that most of them had been sold at local mom-and-pop shops.

“It was like discovering an underground cult,” Bresler said. “The more time I spent in small stores talking to the people who were buying the tickets, the more I started realizing I knew nothing about it.”

She decided to photograph the culture behind the lottery and realized her initial discovery of small businesses was one of the more intriguing components. For her series, “We Sold a Winner,” she focuses on the shop owners who sold the winning tickets.

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Close to $70 billion is spent in the United States on the lottery annually, or, as John Oliver put it recently, more than the total spent on music, movies, and porn combined. Aside from the winners, Breser noted, the owners of these mom-and-pop shops are some of the few people who actually benefit from winning tickets, although the commission they receive for selling a winning ticket varies drastically from state to state.

“Every state is different, some have a really small commission and others it is incredibly generous. In Michigan it’s $5,000 and in Illinois right next door it’s $500,000 so it’s crazy.” 

Third and Fourth Generation Braddock Residents, Al and Albert. Father and son work together at this Pennsylvania shop that opens daily at 4 am to serve workers in nearby steel mills. Al is the second owner of the store and has run it for 34 years. His son, Albert III started helping out while in high school and continues to help out when finished with his own work. They sold three winning jackpot tickets in consecutive months. A $1 million winner in September, 2013 followed by a $325,000 winner in October and another $1 million winner in November. Their total bonus commission for the three was $10,500.
Third and Fourth Generation Braddock Residents, Al and Albert. Father and son work together at this Pennsylvania shop that opens daily at 4 a.m. to serve workers in nearby steel mills. They sold three winning jackpot tickets in consecutive months. Their total bonus commission was $10,500.

Edie Bresler

Denise, Red Bud, Illinois.Denise is a manger at a MotoMart store,Denise, Red Bud, Illinois.Denise is a manger at a MotoMart store where a winning $656 million Mega Million jackpot ticket was sold. Her corporate bosses received the maximum Illinois bonus commission of $500,000. They gifted $50,000 to be shared among the seven workers in the store. As manager, Denise received $25,000 and used the money to purchase a bassoon for her husband. “We tried to get a bank loan several years ago but were turned down. He plays the saxophone, trumpet and clarinet but always wanted to learn to play the bassoon.”
Denise, Red Bud, Illinois. Denise is a manger at a MotoMart store, where a winning $656 million Mega Million jackpot ticket was sold. Her corporate bosses received the maximum Illinois bonus commission of $500,000. As manager, Denise received $25,000 and used the money to purchase a bassoon for her husband.

Edie Bresler

The Patel Family. Harry Patel is the owner of Jays in Lowell, Ma,The Patel Family. Harry Patel is the owner of Jays in Lowell, Massachusetts. Considered a very lucky store by neighborhood players, they have sold two winning $1 million scratch tickets in the last 10 years.
The Patel Family.Harry Patel is the owner of Jays in Lowell, Massachusetts. Considered a very lucky store by neighborhood players, they have sold two winning $1 million scratch tickets in the last 10 years.

Edie Bresler

So far, out of the 44 states that have a lottery, Bresler has been to around 20. She gets notifications and, depending on her schedule, travels to the stores that award prizes of at least $1 million. She then hangs around for up to a week meeting the owners and the people who play the lottery, interviewing them and taking their pictures.

She uses primarily a digital camera but also brings along her 4X5. She said working with the more cumbersome camera is often a great icebreaker since people become curious about the equipment.

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“It’s incredibly valuable because I’m out there all day and I let them look and see how it works so by the time the light is right, they’re all rooting for me and they’re also all ignoring me,” she said. “I think it is a way for them to feel I am really serious about what I’m doing, I’m there to engage with them and talk with them and they enjoy it … they appreciate that it is an art form.”

“I discovered another robust economy,” she said about the ticket sellers. “One owner put it to me this way: ‘A store without the lottery is like a bar without alcohol.’ ”

“We Sold a Winner” is on view at the University of La Verne in the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography in La Verne, California through Dec. 12.

Raj, Bonser's Market. Located in the small village of Custer, Michigan (popularion 284), Bonser's is widely known for their home-made sausages. Rag sold a $13.3 million classic lotto winner in August, 2013 and received the maximum bonus commission which is $5,000 in Michigan.
Raj, Bonser's Market. Located in the small village of Custer, Michigan, Bonser's is widely known for their homemade sausages. Rag sold a $13.3 million classic lotto winner in August 2013 and received the maximum bonus commission, which is $5,000 in Michigan.

Edie Bresler

Passaic, New Jersey. A player who stops by everyday to purchase tickets at Eagle Liquors won a $338 million Powerball jackpot in March, 2013. The owner received a $10,000 bonus commission.
Passaic, New Jersey. A player who stops by everyday to purchase tickets at Eagle Liquors won a $338 million Powerball jackpot in March 2013. The owner received a $10,000 bonus commission.

Edie Bresler

Peter, S&R Market Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York. Peter makes origami sculptures with the discarded lottery tickets his customers leave behind.
Peter, S&R Market Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.Peter makes origami sculptures with the discarded lottery tickets his customers leave behind.

Edie Bresler

David Rosenberg is the editor of Slate’s Behold blog. He has worked as a photo editor for 15 years and is a tennis junkie. Follow him on Twitter.