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What Happened When Elizabeth I Organized A National Lottery

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Raffles and lotteries are by no means new. Legend has it that funds raised by a traditional lottery, known as keno, were used to partly finance construction of the Great Wall of China. The widow of the great painter Jan van Eyck dispensed with many of his remaining artworks in a fundraising raffle after her husband’s death. The sale of more than £600,000 worth of lottery tickets partly funded the construction of the original Westminster Bridge in the mid-18th century. And almost 450 years ago, even Queen Elizabeth I got in on the act by organizing the very first national lottery in English history—and perhaps the first state-sanctioned lottery in the English-speaking world.

The early years of Elizabeth’s reign were overshadowed by her need to not only pay off the colossal debt her father had lumbered the nation with on his deathbed, but to build on Britain’s foreign trade and colonial enterprises. But both international trade and overseas exploration—not to mention the construction of the new ships, docks and harbors that they require—are far from cheap. Keen not to increase taxes or enter into potentially ruinous money-lending deals with other countries, Elizabeth and her court looked elsewhere to find a fundraising idea to finance the nation’s overseas endeavors. And in 1567, she struck upon the perfect idea.

In a letter that came up for auction in 2010, on August 31, 1567 Elizabeth wrote to Sir John Spencer (a High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, and a distant ancestor of both Sir Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales) explaining that he was to help organize England’s very first national lottery. Similar letters were likely sent out to high-ranking officials in all the English regions, but Spencer’s is the only one to have survived, and it is ultimately thanks to him that we know just how Elizabeth planned the lottery to run.

Four hundred thousand tickets, or “lots,” were to be put up for sale nationwide, at a cost of 10 shillings each. The tickets themselves were not merely numbered tokens, but specially printed slips on which anyone wishing to enter the draw would be asked to write their name and a short written “device” (typically a brief biographical note or a favorite Bible verse) that was unique to them and so could be used to identify them if they won. Essentially, it was a Tudor English equivalent of a password reset security question. “God send a good lot for my children and me,” wrote one entrant on his ticket, “which have had 20 by one wife truly.”

The lottery itself was to be played “without any blanckes”, meaning that all ticket holders whose tickets were picked from the hat were guaranteed a prize. Unlike today, prize draws at the time tended to employ two separate draws, one from a tub or “lot-pot” containing the players’ tickets, and the other from a tub containing the names of all the prizes. This second tub also typically contained a large number of blank tickets alongside all the prize tokens, meaning that a winning player could have their number come up, only to go on to be awarded nothing at all; it’s the reason we talk of “drawing a blank” when we’re utterly nonplussed or defeated today. But in this unique national lottery, Elizabeth decreed that somewhat unfair system was to be ignored.

Out of every pound raised, Elizabeth explained, sixpence was to be set aside to pay a salary to the ticket-sellers and revenue collectors, described in the letter as “somme persons appointed of good trust,” who were to be specially chosen for the task. For his trouble, out of every £500 raised and sent to London, Spencer was to be paid 50 shillings (the equivalent of almost £600/$750 today). Corruption and any attempts to cheat the system were to be severely punished, Elizabeth warned, as the entire enterprise was for the good of the country—or, as she explained, “anything advantagious is ordered to be employed to good and publique acts and beneficially for our realme and our subjects.”

The 10 shilling ticket price (equivalent in value to almost £120 today) sadly put entry into the lottery far outside the reach of most ordinary citizens of the time—but the prizes and incentives on offer were tempting for many. First prize was a staggering £5,000 (equivalent to more than £1.1 million today), which was to be paid partly in £3,000 cash (“ready money”) and partly in an extravagant prize package containing fine tapestries and wall hangings, gold and silver plate, and a quantity of “good linen cloth.” Second prize was £2000 cash and a further £1500 worth of luxury items; third prize £1500 cash and the same amount of luxury goods, with similar prizes of diminishing value awarded for any player drawn in fourth to 11th place. And as if that weren’t enough, anyone wealthy enough to purchase a ticket was even granted a temporary immunity from arrest for all crimes except felonies, piracy, and treason.

Unsurprisingly, the logistics involved in running a fair, corruption-free, high-stakes national lottery in Elizabethan England—not least one that awarded anyone holding a ticket near total criminal immunity—proved challenging. Not only that, but the hefty entry cost meant only a fraction of the 400,000 tickets on sale (possibly as little as 10 percent) were actually purchased. As a result, the draw itself did not take place until almost two years later: On January 11, 1569, an eager crowd standing in a square outside the old St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London watched as a blindfolded child steadily picked tickets and prizes from two large urns. And although they didn’t sell as many as hoped, according to one 19th century history, “the drawing [continued] without intermission till the 6th of May, day and night.”

So who won Elizabeth’s national lottery? Sadly, the names of all the winners, including that of the grand prize winner, are unknown. But it’s fair to say a £5000 prize more than four centuries ago would have been a life-changing amount of cash—especially for someone with 20 children.

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11 Delicious Facts About Good Burger
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Paramount Pictures

It takes just 14 words—“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”—to make a ‘90s kid swoon with nostalgia. Good Burger, the beloved Nickelodeon comedy about a couple of daft teens who try to save their fast food joint from corporate greed, was born out of a Kenan Thompson/Kel Mitchell sketch on All That in the mid-'90s. A year later, due to its popularity, it found itself being turned into its own live-action movie, with Brian Robbins at the helm. Today—20 years after its original release—it’s a silly cult hit that’s indelibly a part of Generation Y. Revisit the classic with these facts about Good Burger.

1. KEL MITCHELL AUDITIONED FOR ALL THAT WITH HIS CHARACTER FROM GOOD BURGER.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Kel Mitchell explained how he came up with Ed. “I did a ‘dude’ voice, and that’s where Ed [from Good Burger] was kind of born,” he said. “I did that there at the audition. They were just cracking up.”

2. ED’S FIRST APPEARANCE WAS IN THE JOSH SERVER SKETCH, “DREAM REMOTE.”

Essentially, Good Burger was born out of a random character decision made during one little sketch. “It was where [Josh] could have a remote control that could control his entire life,” Mitchell told The A.V. Club. “So, he could fast-forward through his sister nagging, he could make pizza come really quickly. I was the pizza guy. I came to the door, and the pizza guy didn’t really have a voice, so I was like, ‘Mleh, here’s your pizza! That was the first time we saw Ed, and so they created Good Burger.”

3. ED’S LOOK WAS INSPIRED BY MILLI VANILLI.

When prepping for Ed’s debut on All That, Kel Mitchell spotted what would become the character’s signature look. “I remember I went to the hair room, and I saw these braids. It was like these early Brandy ’90s Milli Vanilli braids. I put those on, and it came to life,” he told The A.V. Club.

4. THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF MEAT STUNK UP THE SET.

Nickelodeon

For a movie all about burgers, you better believe the production had a ton of them sitting around on set. "At one point, there was over 1750 pounds of meat on the set," Kenan Thompson told The Morning Call. "Some of it was old meat. It was so nasty. Some of the burgers would stay out there for a long time. I felt sorry for the extras who had to eat them with cold, clammy fries. But on screen, those burgers look good."

5. ELMER’S GLUE WAS USED TO KEEP THE FOOD LOOKING FRESH.

In order to keep the food looking good on screen, the production resorted to old, albeit inedible, tricks. "It was so gross, because when I scoop out ice cream in the movie, it was really vegetable shortening with food coloring,” Mitchell told The Morning Call. “When I poured milk on cereal, we used Elmer's Glue so the flakes wouldn't get soggy."

6. KENAN AND KEL CONTRIBUTED TO THE GOOD BURGER SOUNDTRACK.

Good Burger was their baby, so of course Kenan and Kel took the reins on more than just the creation of the characters, according to a 1997 interview with The Morning Call. Specifically, Kel partnered up with Less Than Jake on the hit song, “We’re All Dudes.” Because of this, the soundtrack actually charted at 101 on the Billboard 200.

7. GOOD BURGER WAS LINDA CARDELLINI’S FEATURE FILM DEBUT.

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In an interview with The A.V. Club, the Freaks and Geeks star reminisced about her breakout role in the Nickelodeon movie. “That’s my sister’s favorite role that I’ve ever played! It was so much fun. It was my first film, and it was a fantastic part,” Cardellini said. “I got to play crazy! Nobody knew who I was, and I got the part from the table read.”

8. WRITER DAN SCHNEIDER INTENDED TO GIVE UP ACTING WHEN HE WROTE GOOD BURGER, BUT HE PLAYED MR. BAILY IN THE FILM.

On creating Good Burger, writer/producer/actor Dan Schneider explained to The A.V. Club: “I’ve always wanted to write, and after I was doing All That and Kenan & Kel, I got the opportunity to do another TV show—I was still going on auditions. I realized that if I took that show, I was going to have to give up All That and Kenan & Kel. I really didn’t want to do [that] ... I passed on the acting role, and that was really the turning point, I guess, in 1996, when I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to put my acting career on the back burner, and I’m going to be a writer-producer.’ Then I wrote the movie Good Burger.” However, if you watch the movie, you’ll notice Schneider starring as Mr. Baily.

9. THE ORIGINAL TRAILER FEATURED A SCENE THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE MOVIE.

For reasons that remain a mystery, a scene where a Good Burger customer orders “a good shake” from Ed (Mitchell), only to receive an actual bodily shaking from the Good Burger employee, didn’t make the final cut. It did, however, feature for a few seconds in the theatrical trailer.

10. KENAN AND KEL REUNITED FOR A GOOD BURGER SKETCH ON THE TONIGHT SHOW.

In 2015, Kenan and Kel reunited for a Good Burger sketch with Jimmy Fallon. This time, however, Fallon played Ed’s co-worker, while Kenan came in as a construction worker as a surprise. "We've been wanting to get back together," Mitchell told E! News. "It was just about the right project ... it felt like home."

11. THE FIRST LINE IN THE FILM IS THE SAME AS THE LAST LINE.

Appropriately, the line is, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”—just watch the movie.

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Get Tuesday's Best Amazon Deals Now
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, July 25.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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[2 Pack] Anker PowerLine Lightning Cable (6ft) Apple MFi Certified - Lightning Cables for iPhone 7/7 Plus 6/6s Plus 5s/5, iPad mini/4/3/2, iPad Pro Air 2 for $17.99 (list price $29.99)

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GoToys Beach sand toy set, Models and Molds, Bucket, Shovels, Rakes, Mesh bag with pull strings for easy clean, & Reusable Zippered Bag, etc. will keep your child motivated for hours, colors may vary. for $16.99 (list price $39.99)

Tot Tutors Kids 2-in-1 Plastic LEGO-Compatible Activity Table and 2 Chairs Set, Primary Colors for $44.12 (list price $77.00)

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ThermoPro TP03A Digital Food Cooking Thermometer Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen BBQ Grill Smoker for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

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Dash Go Rapid Egg Cooker, Black for $14.99 (list price $25.79)

12-Pack KEURIG Compatible Water Filters by K&J - Universal Fit (NOT CUISINART) Keurig Compatible Filters - Replacement Charcoal Water Filters for Keurig 2.0 (and older) Coffee Machines for $9.95 (list price $19.95)

Ninja Professional Blender (BL610) for $79.99 (list price $125.99)

Oster CKSTWF2000 Belgian Waffle Maker, Stainless Steel for $17.01 (list price $23.99)

Hamilton Beach 25495 Breakfast Burrito Maker, Silver for $13.49 (list price $49.99)

ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer with Dual Probe for Smoker Grill Oven BBQ for $53.99 (list price $89.99)

Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls by Finedine (Set of 6) Polished Mirror Finish Nesting Bowls, ¾ - 1.5 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 8 Quart - Cooking Supplies for $22.95 (list price $39.95)

Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container, Medium, 6.3 Cup, Green for $7.98 (list price $10.92)

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Sunbeam Steam Master 1400 Watt Mid-size Anti-Drip Non-Stick Soleplate Iron with Variable Steam control and 8' Retractable Cord, Black/Blue, GCSBCL-202-000 for $17.24 (list price $29.89)

BISSELL ReadyClean Full Sized Carpet Cleaner, 40N7 - Corded for $70.13 (list price $89.55)

BISSELL PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Corded Vacuum, 81L2A (Same as 81L2T) for $55.99 (list price $69.99)

Clara Clark Premier 1800 Collection 4pc Bed Sheet Set - Full (Double) Size, White, for $26.63 (list price $31.13)

Whitmor Mesh Laundry Bag w/ID Tag for $4.80 (list price $10.00)

Nine Stars 13.2 & 2.1-Gallon Touchless Automatic Motion Sensor Trash Can, Set of 2 for $64.98 (list price $79.67)

Sunbeam Hand Held Garment Steamer W/10' 360 Degree Swivel Cord for Tangle-Free Steaming, GCSBHS-100-000 for $39.99 (list price $54.99)

Homz Contour Steel Top Ironing Board, Extra Stable Legs, Grey & White Filigree Cover for $28.40 (list price $34.97)

Zenna Home E7803STBB, Over-the-Shower Door Caddy, Stainless Steel for $35.00 (list price $69.99)

AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair for $51.92 (list price $64.99)

InnoGear Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Cool Mist Diffusers with 7 Color LED Lights Waterless Auto Shut-off, Wood Grain, 200 mL for $23.99 (list price $79.99)

AMIR 10 LED Motion Sensing Closet Lights, 3 Pack DIY Stick-on Anywhere Portable 10-LED Wireless Cabinet Night/ Stairs/ Step Light Bar with Magnetic Strip (Battery Operated) for $19.99 (list price $66.65)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Gillette Fusion Manual Men’s Razor Blade Refills, 12 Count, Mens Razors / Blades for $33.97 (list price $47.99)

FHI Heat Limited Addition Mermaid Platform Tourmaline Ceramic Professional Hair Styling Iron for $99.99 (list price $139.99)

FHI Brands Technique Nano Weight Pro 1850 Tech Hair Dryer for $69.99 (list price $79.99)

Philips Sonicare Essence Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush, White for $19.95 (list price $49.99)

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45, 3 Fl. Oz., Pack Of 2 for $12.74 (list price $14.99)

Spenco Polysorb Heavy Duty Maximum All Day Comfort and Support Shoe Insole, Women's 11-12 / Men's 10-11 for $10.95 (list price $14.95)

Pampers Baby Wipes Sensitive 9X Refill, 576 Diaper Wipes for $14.39 (list price $19.99)

Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo For Hair & Body, Tear-Free, 18 Oz. for $8.97 (list price $8.97)

Advil Pain Reliever / Fever Reducer Coated Tablet, 200mg Ibuprofen, Temporary Pain Relief (300 Count) for $14.43 (list price $23.51)

Band-Aid Brand Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages For Minor Wound Care, 100 Count for $5.47 (list price $6.81)

Crest 3D White Radiant Mint Whitening Toothpaste, 3.5 oz Twinpack for $5.71 (list price $7.49)

Wahl Color Pro Complete Hair Clipper Kit with Extended Accessories & cape (# 79300-1001) for $30.45 (list price $30.45)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Chisel Tip, Black, 12-Count for $7.99 (list price $9.36)

EXPO Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 12-Count for $8.76 (list price $17.99)

Gelmushta Gel Pens 120 Unique Colors (No Duplicates) Set for Adult Coloring Books Drawing with Case for $18.00 (list price $129.99)

Rubbermaid Regeneration Plastic Letter Tray 6 Pack (86028) for $12.79 (list price $15.99)

Ohuhu 80 Colors Dual Tips Art Sketch Twin Marker Pens Highlighters with Carrying Case for Painting Coloring Highlighting and Underlining for $34.99 (list price $80.00)

Rolodex Mesh Collection Drawer Organizer, Black (22131) for $8.84 (list price $13.74)

Paper Mate InkJoy 300RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Medium Point, Black, 24 Count for $7.96 (list price $14.31)

Westcott iPoint Orbit Battery Pencil Sharpener, Black (16244-003) for $9.34 (list price $14.89)

eBoot 2 Sets Page Marker Page Index Tabs Fluorescent Sticky Note for Page Markers, 250 Pieces for $5.57 (list price $10.57)

Samsill Fashion Color 3 Ring Presentation Binder, 1 Inch Round Rings, Customizable, Clear View Binder, 6 Pack Assorted - Electric Pink, Deep Purple, Fern Green for $14.49 (list price $18.29)

Paper Mate Clearpoint Color Lead Mechanical Pencils, 0.7mm, Assorted Colors, 6 Count for $12.70 (list price $23.23)

eBoot 6 Inches Clear Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office, 2 Pack for $5.69 (list price $8.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Fitness Tracker, Ronten R2 Smart Bluetooth Wristband Pedometer Smart Bracelet Sleep Monitor, Waterproof Activity Tracker Watch with Replacement Band for Android & IOS (Black+blue(band)) for $23.79 (list price $75.00)

G4Free 12x25 Waterproof Binoculars(BAK4,Green Lens),Large Eyepiece Super High-Powered Field Surveillance Binoculars for $25.98 (list price $39.99)

Ironman Gravity 1000 Inversion Table for $99.00 (list price $199.00)

Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect Plus Phos-Free - 3 Liter Bottle for $34.20 (list price $58.68)

MalloMe Marshmallow Roasting Sticks Set of 10 Telescoping Rotating Smores Skewers & Hot Dog Fork 30 Inch Kids Camping Campfire Fire Pit Accessories | FREE Pouch, 10 Bamboo & Marshmallow Sticks Ebook for $14.49 (list price $49.99)

Suncast HSE10 10ft. Extension Hose for All Suncast Hose Reels for $10.87 (list price $14.99)

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Razor A Kick Scooter, Blue for $24.94 (list price $44.99)

TOOLS

SHINE HAI Professional Hand Pruner Bypass Pruning Shears with Safety Lock, Tree Trimmers Secateurs, Garden Shears, Clippers for the Garden for $6.99 (list price $39.99)

Rockbirds Flashlights, LED Flashlight Water Resistant 5 Modes Tactical Flashlight for Camping, Hiking, Hunting for $5.99 (list price $14.99)

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INTEY Multi Plier Stainless Steel 11 in 1 Multitool Knife Foldable Needlenose Pliers With Carry Case for $15.29 (list price $39.99)

Kershaw 1730SS Stainless Steel Zing Knife with SpeedSafe for $22.75 (list price $22.75)

Damaged Screw Extractor and Remover Set by Aisxle,Easily Remove Stripped or Damaged Screws. Made From H.S.S. 4341#, the Hardness Is 62-63hrc,Set of 4 Stripped Screw Removers for $11.88 (list price $39.99)

YARNA Multi-Angle Template Tool - the Original Angle Ruler - Distance Finder Adjustable Best Aid Kit for Measuring and Marking - Construction Pencil Included for $12.99 (list price $19.99)

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