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Contrary to the implication in your report, I am indeed grateful to have won a research grant from a lottery system (see Nature575, 574–575; 2019). The Health Research Council of New Zealand that awarded this grant funds proposals with “transformative” potential; applications are screened by a panel who ensure that the listed criteria have been met. I consider that this sort of high-risk, high-reward funding is ideally suited to a lottery format. However, I am less enthusiastic about lottery schemes that do not apply any merit-based criteria.