Richard Lustig: Clever Lottery Winner or Scammer?

Last UpdatedFebruary 28, 2018

Richard Lustig Photo

If you’re a dedicated lottery player, you might be familiar with the name, Richard Lustig. For the uninitiated, Lustig became the talk of the lottery universe during the 1990s and up to the early 2000s for 7 impressive lottery wins, totaling over $1 million. His story became even more compelling as he sought to share his strategy by creating a media buzz about how to increase our chances of winning the lottery.

The Serial Lottery Winner

Richard Lustig’s story began in January 1993 when he wondered how he could turn his first win from a $10,000 scratcher into a fortune. He continued playing lottery games, but lady luck simply wasn’t on his side. It wasn’t until four years later, in August 1997, that Lustig would win $13,696.03 from the Florida Fantasy 5.

Three years later, in June 2000, Lustig would win a “Wheel of Fortune” trip to Los Angeles valued at $3,594.66—from a scratcher. Then in October 2001, Lustig remarkably won yet another holiday trip—the Memphis-bound “Elvis Holiday,” valued at $4,966. Honestly folks, he was on a roll.

Richard Lustig Fantasy 5

But hold on. It gets unbelievably better for Lustig. On January 2002, he won a Florida Mega Money prize of $842,152.91 and, six years later, on November 25, 2008, he won a $73,658.06 prize from a Florida Fantasy 5 draw. And the final win came on August 9, 2010, where Lustig’s winning streak would end with a $98,992.92 win from—again—Florida Fantasy 5.

The Best-Selling Book

Before taxes, Richard Lustig’s total winnings amounted to $1,052,205.58. Not bad, right? What people don’t realize, however, is that Lustig still lost a great deal of money despite his numerous wins. It’s not surprising considering that in between those wins, he was almost religiously playing the lottery without much payoff. There was even a rumor going around that Lustig spent most of the $842,152.91 prize he won in the Florida Mega Money lottery in 2002 on tickets. His quest for winning became unsustainable, and Lustig knew it.

Richard Lustig Book Cover

By the time of his final win in 2010, Lustig became sort of a legend in the industry. His fame, he realized, could be used to his advantage. Capitalizing on his notoriety, Richard Lustig did just that by writing a book called “Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.”

Predictably, it became an instant hit and was ranked as the 3rd best-selling self-help book on Amazon at the time. It became so popular that media outlets like CNBC, ABC News and even CNN Money covered Richard Lustig’s incredible story. However, this 40-page booklet or pamphlet created a firestorm of criticism despite its popularity.

Lottery Expert or Fraud or Just Lucky?

There’s no question that Richard Lustig has an impressive winning track record and lottery experience, so slapping a label of “fraud” on him might be too harsh. However, just because he won seven times doesn’t mean he’s suddenly an expert on lottery either, as evidenced in his $40, 40-page, booklet.

While his “universal lottery method” contains tips that can be seen as useful—like declaring losing lottery tickets to offset tax deductions for possible future wins—much of the content is either illogical, has been disproven, or can be easily accessed for free elsewhere on the internet.

Richard Lustig Tip

Some of Lustig’s tips are quite sensible–it’s a shame most aren’t.

One tip, for example, suggests avoiding Quick Pick purchases. How Lustig came across this conclusion is beyond me—especially when so many people have won the lottery using Quick Pick tickets. More importantly, whether your numbers are picked by you or by an automated system, your odds of winning will still be the same.

Another suggestion that Lustig offers is to always play the same numbers, but stop playing them once you win. His logic? The same numbers never win twice. While it sounds reasonable, it’s still wrong. There have been many cases where the same winning numbers came up during separate draws. It’s an unlikely occurrence—but not impossible.

The Bottom Line

Yes, Lustig has won the lottery seven times, which is way more than most of us can claim, so he definitely has some experience in the matter. However, one should take what Lustig says or writes with a grain of salt. The lottery is random, and no special skill is required to win. He was in the right place at the right time.

Besides, if his “lottery method” is so good, everyone who bought his book would already be a winner now. I believe Lustig is still buying lottery tickets. But has the lure of another Florida Fantasy 5 win been eating into his winnings? The probability is pretty high, I imagine. At least his book sales can feed his hunger to win. And at $40 a pop, book sales better be good!

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