April 6, 1999

Babysitter Wins Lottery Jackpot

Greater Boston

On this day in 1999, Maria Grasso of Boston won what was then the largest payoff to a single individual in an American lottery — $197,000,000. An immigrant from Chile, Grasso had arrived in the U.S. in 1971, the same year the legislature created the Massachusetts State Lottery. "The Game," introduced in the 1970s, paid out much more money but had the same purpose as the lotteries that were popular two centuries earlier. In the colonial period, government-run lotteries were a common way to raise money for such projects as rebuilding Faneuil Hall after a fire and paying Masachusetts men who served in the Continental Army. Like colonial lotteries, the modern Massachusetts State Lottery increased state revenue without raising taxes.

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