Ivan Dmitritch is a middle class man who lives with his family. He is well contented as he sits on the sofa reading the paper. His wife is clearing the dishes. She asks her husband to check the lottery numbers. He asks her what is her number. She tells him it is 9499 26.
Ivan notices that the first number is indeed 9499. He drops the paper and it falls on his knees. He begins daydreaming about winning the seventy-five thousand. He and his wife both begin daydreaming about what they would do with the money.
They spend the next few minutes dreaming about a new house and traveling. Both the husband and wife begin making plans for spending the money.
Both the husband and wife are so excited at the thought of winning all the money. They are smiling and dreaming about what they will do with the money.
Then Ivan begins thinking about the possibility of his wife traveling without him. He begins thinking about her becoming stingy with the money. He begins to hate the idea of her having all that money.
Likewise, the wife begins thinking that her husband will be after all her money. After all, it is her money. She begins to hate him for desiring all her money.
Before the couple even knows if they have won, they have already spent the money.
Finally, the husband looks to see if the number is 26. It is not. It is 46. The couple did not win. Immediately, the husband and wife begin to come back down to earth:
Hatred and hope both disappeared at once, and it began immediately to seem to Ivan Dmitritch and his wife that their rooms were dark and small and low-pitched, that the supper they had been eating was not doing them good, but lying heavy on their stomachs, that the evenings were long and wearisome. . . .