Over $18 billion in prizes awarded to players since 2006
By Kate Northrop
On Tuesday, March 26, 2006, the North Carolina Education Lottery began selling lottery tickets. 15 years later, over $18 billion has been awarded to players in the form of prizes.
To celebrate the milestone, the Lottery credited its early success to the strong support of North Carolinians who enjoy playing lottery games, winning prizes, and helping out a good cause — public education.
"Every ticket that is purchased provides money for education," Lottery Executive Director Mark Michalko said in a statement. "We're proud to play our part in supporting our students and schools and will work to continue this success for the next 15 years."
To-date, the Lottery has raised $8 billion for education programs in the state. According to the Lottery, funds generated support the costs of school workers in school systems, help build and repair schools in all 100 counties, make college more affordable to students attending state universities and community colleges, support the NC Pre-K program for at-risk four-year-olds, and help cover the cost of school transportation.
Revenue from the Lottery has also made it possible for the creation of new schools in 30 different counties thanks to a new school construction program created four years ago. Under this program, those counties received grants of $10 million to $15 million to construct new schools.
According to a press release, at the current level of sales, the Lottery raises on average $2 million a day for education, but that's not the only place where the money goes.
"About 95 cents of every dollar spent on a lottery ticket cycles back into the state's economy as either a prize, earnings for education, or a sales commission to a retailer," the Lottery said.
Starting off with 5,000 retailers at its inception in 2006, the Lottery now boasts over 7,000 retailers across the state. The store with the highest ticket sales in the state are Carlton's Tanglewood in Clemmons, followed by Rose Mart #14 in Wilson and Eagles Express in Knightdale.
The number of retailers selling Lottery products is not the only aspect of the organization that has grown. In 2006, the Lottery recorded $885.6 million in annual sales. This year, it took in over $3 billion in annual revenue. The most popular games in the Lottery's repertoire are its instant games, of which the Lottery has sold a total of 762 different scratch-off tickets so far.
Of the $18 billion awarded to players in the past decade and a half, seven Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot winners in the state took home prizes ranging from $12 million to $344.6 million.
One notable winner is Marie Holmes, who won a share of a $564 million Powerball jackpot in 2015 worth $188 million. She recently made headlines after her former fiancé, who was dating Holmes at the time of her win, sued her for allegedly giving away property he claims were gifts given to him by her.
Charles Jackson is the biggest North Carolina winner ever, who won a $344.6 million Powerball jackpot in 2019.
"You play to win, but you never really expect to win the whole dang pot," Jackson said when he claimed his prize.