Public education has hit the jackpot with the Texas Lottery. Lottery officials say the state's online and instant games are raising billions for Texas schools.
Like a lot of Texas Lottery players, Barbara Chongulia pays far more attention to how much money she might win than where the money she spends on tickets goes.
"It's fun. It's like buying hope," Chongulia said.
"I buy it everyday anyway, so it doesn't really matter to me."
Since 1997, by state law, it goes to public education. Lottery officials say this month's payment to the state puts total revenue generated for the foundation school fund over the $6 billion mark. That's about a billion dollars a year.
"The truth is, that when Texans play, Texas wins. As a part of the overall education budget in the state, we think we're making a positive difference," Texas Lottery Commission Executive Director Reagan Greer said.
Budget experts say the difference doesn't necessarily mean extra dollars flowing into education.
"Any extra dollars the lottery produces, reduces the draw on general revenue. So we're not really buying anything new in our school finance system, we're really more trading one dollar for another," Dale Craymer with Texas Taxpayers and Research Association said.
Lottery officials say about 30 cents of every dollar spent on tickets goes to education. The rest pays for prizes and administrative costs, but they hope the more players like Chongulia realize how big a cut education gets, the more tickets they'll buy.
"There is a large percentage of players that do want to know where the money goes and that's why we're reinforcing it," Greer said.
Lottery officials say the new multi-state, Mega Millions game is helping boost ticket sales by about five percent this year.
Their goal is to reach about $3.5 billion in lottery sales this year.