RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Yes, it’s nice to dream about winning the big Powerball jackpot, but let’s stop and think about why we’re playing in the first place.
“Any amount of money that is raised in a ticket sale, a portion of that will go to help students and schools across the state,” said Kathleen Jacob, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Education Lottery.
Out of the $1.5 billion dollar prize, the state will get about $65 million and about $25 million of that will be going to education, if the winner is a North Carolina resident.
Since the Education Lottery started in 2006, Wake County Schools have seen almost $331 million from the lottery.
To break this down a different way, out of the $2 you spend on a ticket, about 76 cents of that is going to education.
But for the first time in the Education Lottery’s history, none will be going to teachers.
“Our primary purpose as an organization is to raise money for education and to raise as much as we possibly can. It’s lawmakers that then decide how that money is going to be distributed,” said Jacob.
The state legislature redirected the funds to school support personnel instead of teachers. And when you break it down even further, the money brought in by the lottery only amounts to about 4 percent of the state’s education fund.
“It’s a scam,” said Rep. Paul Stam.
Stam said the lottery is guilty of some false advertising not only in how much goes to education, but also in the jackpot it touts.
“In today’s money, the prize is only worth $930 million, and after taxes you’re only going to have a little bit more than $500 million,” said Stam.
Of course $500 million is still nothing to sneeze at and hey, if you don’t win, just think about it like the lottery folks do.
“Your money’s not going to waste, it’s going to a very, very good cause,” said Jacob.
Stam questioned that sentiment.
“And the different group of people who play the lottery disproportionately have less education, less experience at mathematics, lower income,” said Stam.
A study in 2010 by NC Policy Watch found in the 20 counties with the highest poverty rates, 18 had higher per capita spending on the lottery than the state average of $200 per adult.
Nash County had the highest per capita spending on the lottery, with $536.11 per adult.
Lottery sales in fiscal year 2015 totaled $1.98 billion, of which 26.2 percent went to education, or $521 million.
Powerball isn’t the state’s only game and not even the most popular.
The Education Lottery actually gets more money from instant games and Carolina Pick 3.