The chances of winning the lottery are pretty slim — and the same goes for finding true love or getting hit by lightning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t think of some other things that have a similar, low-probability chance of occurring: For example, we might consider a job interview to be something like a lottery. In fact, one survey found that 40% of people who feel disengaged from their work would quit if they won the lottery. But experts suggest that you shouldn’t make any drastic life changes until after you win, so maybe it’s better to stay put for a little while longer.

While the term “lottery” is usually associated with state-run contests that award large prizes, it can also refer to any sort of game of chance where winners are selected at random. This could include anything from games of skill to academic admissions processes. In the latter case, for instance, students are chosen in a lottery-like system because there is great demand for a limited number of seats.

In colonial America, lotteries were used to raise money for a variety of private and public ventures, including roads, libraries, churches, and colleges. One of the most famous lotteries was the Virginia Company’s lottery in 1694, which raised funds to establish a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia.

Today, 44 states and the District of Columbia run state lotteries. While the money they generate is significant, it’s still a tiny fraction of overall state budgets. And while some groups are fighting to end state-sponsored gambling, others argue that lotteries can be a fun and responsible way to promote charitable giving.