Since day one, our founders’ goal, besides building an app, has been to deliver uncommon value. The way that we interpret and share that value, on a daily, micro level, is to make people happy. Making people happy is not just our favorite hashtag or an empty promise, it’s the guiding principle in every choice we make as a company. We want to make everyone happy, from our users level all the way up to our shareholders. If you ask any of our Customer Happiness Heroes what their job is, they will all reply “making people happy.” (As a side note: we tested this thesis and were correct.)

“Surprise and Delight” – And Then Do More

You are likely familiar with the term “surprise and delight,” as it relates to business. If you’re not, here’s a paraphrased explanation from CMO.com: “Companies introduce experiences that slide the dial from “mundane” to “awesome” … whether it’s in the form of a promotion or a streamlined way to interact or transact.” We all easily understand the concept that, when you receive a pleasant surprise, it makes you happy – and likely builds brand loyalty to the source. Have you ever had a restaurant manager kindly offer to buy you dinner or offered you a coupon for a free appetizer? Chances are very good you’ll dine at that restaurant again. Plenty of companies have wisely designed their marketing campaigns around S&D and have amassed loyal customers as a result. We work hard to make our user interface fun, exciting, easy to use, and enticing, so that users don’t come back just to play the lottery but because they love opening our app.

But, assuming that any company’s competitors are also trying to surprise and delight their audience, how does your company maintain and grow your client base at the same time? Be more surprising? More delightful than ever before?? Every user experience has its limit, especially if your product or UI are “off” in any way. Eventually, the “cool” factor will wear off if the user experience is terrible.

All You Need Is Love

If making an app flashy and fun isn’t enough on its own, how do you pull together the complete package? Bring the focus back to the users themselves. Ironically, the secret to making users happy is to emphasize the humanity in technology. Our Customer Happiness team are experts in this, and know how to do it better than anyone. Kristine and Melissa, some of our most experienced “Happiness Heroes” divulged their secrets. According to Kristine, “The secret to keeping our users happy is listening to them and sympathizing. I have also found that keeping a good line of communication and following up on issues makes them feel like they’re cared about. Even if an issue isn’t resolved yet, just letting them know, ‘We haven’t forgotten about you’ really helps.” Adds Melissa, “We put passion into helping our customers! It’s about really listening, problem solving and considering all feedback, and making real connections.” A committed, caring team made up of real people – not recordings or phone answering services – to help real people is just one of the ways that we aim to make people happy.

We are as imperfect as any other app or technology. While our team works tirelessly to close the gap, we rely on our softer skills to keep our users happy to come back and play again. And yes, we’ve been known to surprise and delight our users with the occasional free ticket 😉

Did you love this post? Have questions, comments, or just want to start a conversation? Please share or reach out on Twitter or Facebook (@lotterydotcom), LinkedIn, or say hi to our Customer Happiness Heroes by emailing Support@lottery.com.

All images via VRBO

VRBO is a great resource for vacationers of any budget size. That said, lottery winners may as well go big or go home! Here are some absolutely stunning rentals to inspire your lottery daydreams.

1. Historic Hudson Suite

Nestled in historic Hudson, NY, this rental suite sports dramatic arches and chic decor. The romantic apartment for 2 is located in a renovated 19th century hat shop and is close to plenty of restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars.

2. Sterling Beach Luxury Condo

This luxury beachside condo in Sterling Beach, FL offers dining with an unbeatable view. Modern decor furnishes the spacious suite, which has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, in case you want to bring some friends along for a couples’ retreat.

3. Puerto Rican Paradise

This stunning villa is located on the grounds of the exclusive St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club. Guests have full access to the Beach Club, restaurants, lake, and wildlife sanctuary. Situated right on the ocean, the pool and surrounding area feature a poolside bar with an amazing food menu and plenty of seating for relaxing poolside.

4. Day Street Castle in Seattle

Aptly called a “castle”, this huge, 6-bedroom rental is perfect for the ultimate escape. With wifi, a gourmet kitchen, wrap-around porch, second-story balcony, and private courtyard, this rental has everything you need for an exquisite vacation.

5. Mountaintop Private Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Poised at the center of a 135-acre gated estate, this Asheville mountaintop estate is fit for royalty. Make yourself at home amidst oriental rugs, assorted antiques, huge stone fireplaces, books galore, and deep chairs and sofas for total relaxation.

6. “Tuscany by the Sea” Rental in Daytona Beach, FL

This luxury vacation house contains 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ baths, a private pool, a library, heated spa, 8 HDTVs, a digital library of 13,000 songs, and surround sound installed throughout. Did we mention that it’s also only a short walk to the beach?

7. New Orleans Colonial Estate

This New Orleans colonial estate can sleep up to 20 guests. No lottery daydream would be complete without 6 sumptuous bedrooms, soaring 14 foot ceilings, a chef’s kitchen, and more.

8. Luxury Aspen Estate in the Mountains

This Aspen mansion sports high-performance amenities, a personal hot tub, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain scenery. It even has an elevator. Now that’s luxury.

9. Newly Remodeled Vail Valley Rental

Enjoy the open floor plan and plenty of natural sunlight in this tranquil mountain estate. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, this luxurious rental is perfect for ski retreats or other outdoors adventures.

10. Yellowstone Park Vacation Lodge

You can’t beat the view from the stretching rustic balcony of this 8,500 square foot vacation lodge. It includes a wood burning fireplace, bar, and game room complete with foosball, a pool table, and shuffleboard.

Looking to upgrade your vacation package? Start by trying your luck on the free Lottery.com app on your smartphone or tablet. Just want to daydream about living in lottery-winner luxury? Follow us on Facebookand Twitter for more.

Arthimedes / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to brainstorming what makes the world a better place, big business is probably the furthest thing from your imagination. But the good news is that there are plenty of companies out there dedicated to making a real difference in their communities and beyond. In other words, the money you spend with some businesses doubles in value because its also stretching to help others. Here are a few change makers that are committed to the cause:

Retail: TOMS and Leesa

Physical and online retail stores sometimes donate proceeds of their sales, or items of value, to charities around their community and abroad.

You might have heard of companies like TOMS shoes, who give a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair bought in store or online. They currently ship shoes with over 100 services across more than 70 countries.

Another great example is Leesa.com, who donate a mattress to a homeless shelter for every 10 mattresses sold on their site.

Personal Hygiene Products: Dove and The Body Shop

Image courtesy of Dove

You’ve probably seen the Dove Real Beauty campaigns. These are short, emotional, and often viral videos that promote self-love for people of all shapes and sizes. They directly address self-image issues that plague many women and even men. Instead of just selling a product, Dove promotes self-confidence.

The Body Shop is another company that helps out. It has product lines that support wildlife preservation in places like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The funds from certain products contribute to saving acres of endangered rainforest habitat.

Eyewear and Optometry: Warby Parker with VisionSpring

Warby Parker, like TOMS, provides a product to someone in need for every pair of glasses sold through their store. Over 1 billion people around the world don’t have access to much-needed eyewear, leaving up to 15% of the world’s population unable to work or learn. Warby Parker designs affordable eyewear and also partners with institutions like VisionSpring to deliver glasses to people in need.

Water Providers: People Water

Riccardo Mayer / Shutterstock.com

People Water is another company that offers a “buy one, give one” approach to their product — clean drinking water. Because they offer such a vital resource, the work they do is of tantamount importance worldwide. They believe positive social outcomes are just as important as making a profit.

Professional Service Firms: Ernst & Young

Sometimes institutions start by doing good within their own walls. Did you know that Ernst & Young was voted the best employer for people with disabilities in 2015? They cater to customers and employees with various degrees of disability, both in-person and online. That includes a job-aids process and a disability resource center for those who need it.

State Lotteries

Cylonphoto / Shutterstock.com

Many state lotteries use their revenue to support education and environmental programs within their communities. For example, the Arizona Lottery helps to fund the Healthy Families Program, which supports struggling families of people dealing with mental health issues. The Minnesota lottery helps fund natural resources, including the promotion of responsible hunting and fishing, and the Texas Lottery uses its revenue to support care and services for veterans across the state.

If you want the money you spend to do some good in the world, check out any of the companies listed above. And if you want to contribute to state lottery funding in your area, sign up with the Lottery.com app on your smartphone or tablet today. You can buy a Powerball ticket in just two taps, and help support all kinds of great causes!

To learn more, head to Lottery.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

(Image: Karol Dach // Stocksnap.io)

You’ve undoubtedly read scores of company profiles, articles, reviews, and founders’ bios for companies and products that are “disrupting the industry” in any given field. Companies, platforms, and tech are “changing the game” and “reimagining the way we think” about X concept. People have gone so far as to say that if you are not in front of disruption, you become a victim of it. This many expert opinions can’t possibly be wrong, can they?

At Lottery.com, we’ve decided to do just the opposite.

INSERT GASP HERE (Image: Tookapic.com)

What the….?!!

Since the inception of Lottery.com, known then as AutoLotto, we’ve aimed to create a product that is inevitable and pushes the lottery industry forward, rather than disruptive to an already extremely popular, developed institution. Why choose the perhaps less flashy “inevitable growth” route? For one thing, inevitability is certainly not exclusive of innovation. It simply means creating a product or concept that is bound to be desired by the human experience. Innovation, by definition, means to “introduce something new or different.” Its synonyms include breaking new ground, contemporary, and ingenious. Those all sound like pretty good ideas for a company, don’t they? A literal wise guy, Albert Einstein, once said that the definition of insanity is doing something the same way over and over again and expecting a different result. As humans and as industries, we naturally evolve and that evolution pushes us forward.

Cell phones have evolved just a bit since the flip phone. (Image: Michael Kulesza // Stocksnap.io)

Adapt and flourish

The second reason we take this approach is that we believe in building things that we think should exist. Bringing an industry online doesn’t disrupt that industry, it adapts it to fit the modern zeitgeist. It is inevitable that almost everything will be automated and brought online in the near future. Many people no longer go to the grocery store to purchase their food, they order it online. The good news is that by simply advancing an existing industry, we can expand the current market of lottery players to include millennials and over tech savvy demographics. The reason that this is important is because it means the lottery industry will stay alive and well, and continue to fund great things like education, social programs, and wildlife conservation.

How we do it

Cooperation is key. (Image: Jonathan Velesquez // Stocksnap.io)

Lottery.com endeavors to advance, not agitate. We seek recognition of our legality, cooperation, and partnership in every state that we operate in. In the lottery world, that’s a big deal. In fact, we would never infringe upon the existing lottery in a state before going live. So no, we don’t aim to disrupt officially and state-sanctioned lottery games and local retailers, we work to innovate and advance the process so that buyers and sellers of lottery tickets alike can #wintogether.

(Image: Iconion)

Do you want to learn more or try our app out for yourself? Head to Lottery.com to learn more or go straight to l.lottery.com/sm to download the app. Even in states where we are working to go live, you are able to use the app to track your paper tickets for winnings. For lottery results, jokes, and crazy stories, follow us on Twitter @lotterydotcom or on Facebook. Connect with us on LinkedIn and be sure to share this content and clap if you like it.

Image via Shopify

If you’re lucky enough to be a lottery jackpot winner, chances are that everyone you encounter will have an opinion about what you should do with the money. While the way you spend your money is up to you, and you should enjoy the process, here are a few ways in which you can try to ensure your winnings are maximized.

1. Work with a financial advisor

According to the Sudden Money Institute, lottery jackpot winners actually receive about a third of the total jackpot. It’s completely up to winners to decide if they’ll take a lump sum or a payout of 30 allotments over 29 years. The decision is typically based around tax brackets, investment options, and personal finances. A financial advisor can and should evaluate your options for you, and advise you in the payout that makes the most sense in your situation.

2. Invest

Image via Stocksnap.io

Investing can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You can certainly take the stock market or cryptocurrency route and invest a good portion of your money. With the proper financial advice and portfolio advisor, it’s possible to significantly grow your wealth. This may also mean investing in startup companies or funding campaigns that you strongly believe in. Lastly, it may mean investing in the future of your children, be that in college funds, trusts, or other savings accounts. If you play your cards right, you may be able to do all of the above!

3. Find or establish a cause that will leave a lasting legacy

Image courtesy of Ariel Lustre // Stocksnap.io

Lottery winners are in a rare position to make a huge impact on this and future generations via charitable causes and donations. In spite of all that money can buy, some winners find a lasting legacy or important cause to be the must fulfilling gift of all. Consider giving to organizations that fight disease, provide clean water, build schools, feed the homeless, provide jobs to the underprivileged, or whatever is near and dear to your heart. If there is no such charity, perhaps create your own. Money can buy much more than a new home or fast car; it can buy hope, a cure, a new future, or a second chance for someone in need.

4. Make sure you’re not losing out on winnings

Image via Stocksnap.io

It is estimated that approximately $2 billion in lottery winnings go unclaimed each year. In fact, in 2015 alone, 114 prizes with $1 million or more were never claimed. Why? The answer is simple: people forget to check their tickets or simply don’t realize they’ve won a secondary jackpot. Thanks to the Lottery.com app, you don’t have to stress about missing out on any winnings. The app tells users almost instantly if and how much a ticket has won. The first way to be a big winner is to know you’ve won. Want to try it for yourself? Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Akos Nagy / Shutterstock.com

How have lotteries changed since they were first introduced? What has stayed the same? Our brief history of the lottery takes a fun and informative tour through the past to uncover the origins of America’s favorite games of chance.

The Beginning

Chantel Lucas / Stocksnap.io

Lottery-style games have been around for a long time and they are popular all around the world. Various forms of lottery games make an appearance in the Bible, the Quran, Greek mythology, and ancient Japanese and Chinese histories. The Romans used lottery games to predict the future, reward their followers, and distribute gifts at parties. Jobs, political positions, and property were also distributed by lottery draws throughout history.

A popular Italian lottery game in the 15th century, bianca carta, is believed to have given birth to the lottery ticket. The name comes from the word “white” in Italian, which is in reference to the white paper tickets. In France, the Italian entourage of Caterina de Medici introduced the game as blanque.

Changing Lottery Prize Structures

The concept that we now know as state lotteries began to develop in the 1560s after unlicensed lotteries were outlawed in Flanders in 1526. Class lotteries used several levels of prizes, from most lucrative to least, and participants could buy in at multiple levels.

The Use of Lottery Numbers

source unknown

In the 16th century, Genoa used a lottery draw to fill 90 senator spots. Eventually the public began betting on the drawing outcomes, which was the start of “Lotto.” The names of the senators were replaced by lottery numbers 1 through 90. Sounds similar to the Powerball numbers we use now, doesn’t it? This “new” game was operated by bankers and then taken over by the state. A “6 out of 49” number system was first introduced in Berlin in 1952.

Funding Social Programs

August Caesar famously sold lottery tickets to fund repairs for the city of Rome. As early as 1539, France used lotteries to make up for lost capital after being at war with Spain. Lotteries were also used to fund the Hôpital Général de Paris, the king’s wedding, and the renovation of many Parisian churches. To this day, lottery funding is used in state projects across America and goes toward educational funding, among other causes.

The First New York Lotteries

La Compagnie Robinson / stocksnap.io

Lotteries came to America with European settlers. The first official U.S. lottery happened around 1746 to help pay for fortification of the city. At the end of that same year, a lottery was used to help in the construction costs of building a college. In order to prevent raising taxes to alleviate post-war debt, lotteries were used to raise money for various projects, including founding a college, repaying public debt, and building a lighthouse. Lotteries began to really catch on across the U.S. in the 1980s.

Lotteries and Technology

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Lottery games like Powerball and Mega Millions are now moving towards a digital future. The Lottery.com app allows you to play the lottery right on your smartphone. Finally, the lottery is catching up to other industries that have already benefited from going digital. Technological advancements are also used to ensure that the lottery stays fair for everyone.

The Future of the Lottery

At Lottery.com, we are continuing to expand and add more games to our platform so stay tuned! In the meantime, use the app to check your paper tickets or play the Powerball, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with the latest updates.

Shutterstock / pinkomelet

When your family wins the lottery, what should you do first? You may want to distribute some of the money to those close to you, support your favorite charitable cause, or put some into savings. But, of course, you’ll also want to treat yourself and your family a bit, and here are some great ways to do just that:

Send Your Kids to College

Shutterstock / Jacob Lund

The college of their dreams is within reach when your lottery windfall is available to pay for steep tuition costs. You really can’t beat a good education — after all, it’s an investment in their future. It may not be as glamorous as a new sports car or some of the other options here, but it will be extremely valuable in the long run. Trust us.

Invest in Home Improvements

Shutterstock / udra11

If you don’t buy a new home altogether, why not make a few desirable adjustments to your current home? As a new lottery winner, you may want to go all out with a pool, a game room, or energy efficient additions. Or, you may be thinking of something more modest. Have you always dreamed of having an open-concept kitchen and an island counter with a double sink? Now’s the time to go for it!

Pamper Yourselves

Shutterstock / Dasha Petrenko

Go out for a nice dinner, enjoy a salon trip, book a couples’ massage, get the iPhone X, take a family trip. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the small things that you might have put aside before that are finally within your reach.

Visit Disney World

Shutterstock / Ken Wolter

Guaranteed to delight the whole family, Disney World is the ideal trip to take together. The rides, the food, the events and parades, the resort, the characters and costumes…there’s so much to do and see. What tends to be an expensive trip will be no problem once you’ve won the Powerball jackpot.

Fund Your Bucket List

Inked Pixels/ Africa Studio

“I’ve always wanted to…” You’ve no doubt said these words before. Whether it’s a specific destination, adventurous activities, or once-in-a-lifetime experiences, everyone has a bucket list. Why not get started on yours by putting some of your lotto winnings towards checking these items off?

Take a Cruise

Shutterstock / Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko

Even if you’re keeping your 9-to-5 (and many lottery winners do), you will probably want to treat yourself to a well-deserved vacation. There’s nothing more relaxing than the scent of open waters and the sound of the waves as you suntan on the deck of a yacht. Or, maybe you want to be the captain of your own cruise.

Travel the World

Shutterstock / I am Kulz

There are so many things to see and do across the globe. Make a list of the sights that you and your family want to see and then set off to start exploring. This is the time to treat yourself, and your loved ones, to some unforgettable and life-changing experiences.

What’s on your lottery winnings must-do list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter — or leave us any other questions or comments and we’ll do our best to help out.

To have a shot at making your dream list a reality, grab a free Mega Millions or Powerball ticket on your smartphone or tablet by signing up with Lottery.com.

source: unknown

The end of the year is notoriously the most expensive time of year, whether you celebrate the holidays or not. Office gift exchanges, presents, travel to see family, and extra meals out create a cash suck. Now, imagine an alternative to all that financial stress: a lottery win in the midst of “the most wonderful time of the year.” The currently climbing lottery jackpots just might provide a few fortune-favored winners the opportunity to have their best holiday season ever. If you are one such lucky lotto player, here are a few ideas for how to treat yourself to an epic December:

1. Stay at the Cabin or Lodge of Your Dreams

Stocksnap.io — Simon Robbin

For those who love the snow, there’s no better way to immerse yourself than in a cozy cabin or ski lodge. Whether you love a relaxing sauna session or hitting the slopes, there are options for anyone. Many resorts and rentals are also family-friendly and offer discounted lift tickets and activities for children. Go ahead, treat yourself.

2. Go Heliskiing or Heliboarding

Heliksir — HELISKI CAUCASUS

Feeling fearless? This is arguably the most intrepid winter activity out there. Helicopters carry experienced skiers and snowboarders to the top of untouched peaks where they are left to ride down steep, flawless mountain faces. Experienced winter athletes cite this as one of their greatest thrills but, be forewarned, this one is not for novices or the faint of heart.

3. Throw an Unforgettable Holiday Bash

Stocksnap.io — Jake Owens

Holiday parties don’t need to be stuffy! Get creative and throw your friends and family a party none of you will ever forget. Whether it’s a black tie affair with real reindeer, a costume party on the slopes in Vail, or a pajama party with an Elvis impersonator and fountains of nacho cheese, you have the means to throw the soiree of the century. Go all out.

4. Travel The Country Via Train

freestocks.org — Joanna Malinowska

Imagine traveling up the gorgeous California coast or making the nostalgia-filled journey from New York City all the way to San Francisco, all from the comfort and warmth of a train car. Rail vacation packages can be purchased for yourself or a group and promise sites along the way like Times Square, the Hudson River, the Rocky Mountains, and Fisherman’s Wharf. For anyone looking to explore the U.S. and have a unique holiday experience, this might be the option for you.

5. Surprise Families by Paying For Their Gifts on Layaway

Stocksnap.io — Michal Jarmoluk

Although there are plenty of flashy ways to spend your newly-won cash, this may be the most fulfilling option of all. Many large retailers offer layaway plans for families who are unable to take on the financial burden of the holidays all at once. Follow in the footsteps of other anonymous donors who have generously paid off the cost of layaway gifts for hundreds of families. You have the potential to not only give a merry holiday season, but to change lives. Winning feels good, but paying it forward feels even better.

Shutterstock / Kriang Kan

When you play the lottery, it’s not only for your benefit — you’re also giving back to all of the people in your state who are directly impacted by lottery funding. Here are some of the ways lottery funding supports social causes across the United States:

Minnesota

Shutterstock / Jacob Lund

In the 2016 fiscal year, more than $2.6 million in lottery fundingcontributed to a variety of public projects benefiting the state of Minnesota. For every dollar spent on lottery tickets in the North Star State, 13 cents go to the General Fund (which includes education and public safety), 6.5 cents go to environmental protection programs, and 4.6 cents go to other public resources like zoos, parks, and trails.

One such lottery-funded project is the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure, which focuses on “place-based education” and takes students out of the classroom to engage with the outdoors and their own communities. This hands-on experience focuses on team building and leadership skills. Lottery funding helped buy locally-made canoes for the project.

Ohio

Shutterstock / Andrey Popov

The Ohio Lottery places all net proceeds into a state treasury that in turn distributes them among a variety of educational programs. These funds are divided between elementary, secondary, vocational, and special education programs. The state lottery has also established an “Academic All Stars” and “Teacher of the Month” award to promote the good work being done in Ohio schools.

In 2016 alone, the Ohio State Lottery provided $1.06 billion in funding to education programs — a staggering $76.1 million increase from the previous year. Since its creation in 1974, the state lottery has given more than $22 billion to state education funds.

Arizona

Shutterstock / SnvvSnvvSnvv

In Arizona, lottery funding is split between various social initiatives that impact residents across the state. In the 2015 fiscal year, $22.2 million in lottery funds went to education, $10.6 million went to human services (such as the Healthy Families program), $14.9 million went to economic and business development, and $10 million went to environmental protection and education.

The state lottery also contributes to the Arizona Competes Fund which supports the Arizona Commerce Authority by providing grants to established state-based enterprises and business development initiatives.

North Dakota

Shutterstock / Tom Reichner

Like many states, North Dakota has a systematic breakdown that shows where every dollar brought in by the state lottery should be allocated. Some unique highlights include: 1% to an addiction treatment fund and 2% to a multi-jurisdictional drug task force fund. Unsurprisingly, 22% of funding directly supports the State General Fund to assist with big ticket items like education.

2015 was a record-setting year for the North Dakota lottery — a whopping $6.1 million went to the State General Fund.

New Hampshire

Shutterstock / Laura Stone

Education is the primary benefactor of New Hampshire’s state lottery funding. In total, 25% of lottery proceeds go to education. To date, more than $1.7 billion has been provided to academic programs across the state.

When the New Hampshire State Lottery was first established, there was no sales or state income tax, so the lottery funding swooped in to save the day when the educational system needed support. The state lottery has been contributing to educational funding since 1964.

The American lottery has a long history of funding social, cultural, and economic projects, which means that when you buy a ticket, you are buying into the well-being of your country. What’s even better than contributing to your community, state, or country when you buy a lottery ticket? Contributing for free when you sign up for the Lottery.com app and receiving a complimentary Powerball ticket on your smartphone or tablet.