Western North Carolina lottery players may have to turn to a South Carolina television station to watch Powerball drawings.
State lottery administrators said this week they're having difficulty finding a television station in the western region to broadcast the drawings. Drawings are at 10:59 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday.
Stations in Charlotte, Greenville and Raleigh are airing the drawings. The lottery doesn't pay for the airtime, but instead offers to advertise the station on billboards, printed promotional material and some radio spots, said Alice Garland, a lottery spokeswoman.
WLOS, the only broadcast station based in and licensed to serve WNC, has talked with lottery administrators, said Jack Connors, the station's general manager.
"They want us to delay our newscast and carry the drawings for free," Connors said Wednesday. "We just can't give out broadcast time for free around a newscast."
Alternatives include striking a deal with a local cable television station to air the ads. But WNC audiences can already see the Powerball drawings on South Carolina stations WSPA/WASV and WHNS. South Carolina is among the 29 states that participate in Powerball.
"When you have televised drawings, it creates excitement and interest," said Max Cogburn Jr., a state lottery commissioner from Asheville. "It reminds them we do have an education lottery in North Carolina. But I think this will be taken care of."
The state's Powerball sales as of Monday were $6.5 million. Overall, lottery sales, including Powerball, are just less than $175 million.
North Carolina was the top state last week in gross sales and among the top five states in per capita sales, said Tom Shaheen, lottery executive director.
Shaheen said it was difficult to compare North Carolina's launch to that of other states because large jackpots draw more players, which mean higher lottery profits. Last week's jackpot was $38 million.
This week's estimated jackpot is $60 million.
Cogburn said the state is on track in terms of lottery sales. Administrators expect to earmark $420 million for public school construction, college scholarships and other education programs.
"We'll keep bringing in new games and are considering having other games that are similar to Powerball but are contained within the state," he said. "All of those things are on the table."