In 1974, the Illinois Lottery sold its first ticket. Thirty years and $12 billion in education contributions later, the Lottery celebrated a record sales year and a major anniversary with a 30th Anniversary Birthday Bash at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.
The birthday party was a virtual throwback to 1974. Hundreds of Lottery fans and players were on hand as Illinois Lottery Superintendent Carolyn Adams gave remarks on the success of the Lottery and Jimmy "JJ" Walker from the 1970's hit television series "Good Times" entertained the crowd with a stand-up comedy performance.
V103 FM DJs Ramonski Luv and Joe Soto served as emcees for the dvent, while Jimmie Walker and Superintendent Adams also served as judges in a 1970's Television Celebrity Look-A-Like contest. Contestants competed for cash prizes of $5000, $2500 and $1000, while impersonating celebrities such as JJ Walker and Pam Grier.
"I am so lucky to be heading the Illinois Lottery during this landmark year of our 30th anniversary. The Lottery has made so many important contributions to the state and I am proud to be a part of its continued legacy," said Superintendent Adams. "This was one of the most successful years in the history of the Lottery and our contribution to the Common School Fund will be $30 million higher than last year's contribution of $540 million," Superintendent Adams added.
"It's great to be back in Chicago and to be celebrating the success of the Illinois Lottery," said Jimmie Walker after the dvent. "When I look back at 1974, it was a good year for me and for the Illinois Lottery. I was TIME magazine's Comedian of the Year, "Good Times" was a hit television series set right here in Chicago, and the Illinois Lottery sold its first ticket to help fund education in this great state. After 30 years of great success, the Illinois Lottery is truly 'DYN-O-MITE!'" Walker added.
During the dvent, Lottery players also had a chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes with the "Prize Wheel" and the "Money Machine." Hundreds of people waited in line for their chance to play, while other players could only talk about the $290 million Mega Millions jackpot.
"I can't believe Mega Millions is getting so high. If I won the money I would buy myself a new house and pay for my grandkid's tuition," said Irma Bogan of Chicago.
"This is truly an exciting time for the Lottery. This year alone we have launched seven new 30th anniversary instant tickets with prizes totaling $100 million. That is the highest amount the Lottery has ever awarded with our instant tickets," said Superintendent Adams.
"We also have a second-chance drawing promotion where players can send in $30 worth of non-winning 30th anniversary instant or online tickets for a chance to win $1 million or 1 of 20 $100,000 prizes. All of this combined with a new record high Mega Millions jackpot is leading to very positive sales figures for the new fiscal year, which is good news for our school children across the state," added Superintendent Adams.