The Mega Millions billboard on Central Avenue in southwest Atlanta was modified Friday after the jackpot reached a record $1 billion. The ‘M’ in ‘Million’ was replaced with a ‘B.’
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Official: $1B Mega Millions jackpot will impact education payouts

A big lottery jackpot also means a bigger payout for education. 

Georgia Lottery officials said Friday’s $1 billion jackpot — the first of its kind for Mega Millions — is a big deal toward surpassing the $1.1 billion the Georgia Lottery contributed toward education during the last fiscal year, which ended June 30. 

Georgia Lottery money pays to fund the state’s Pre-K programs and HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships and grants used to assist with tuition costs at eligible public and private Georgia postsecondary institutions. The funds help more than 1.8 million students attend college in the state. 

Georgia Lottery Corp. President and CEO Gretchen Corbin said large jackpots already are factored into yearly revenue projections but, less than four months into the fiscal year, it’s a great thing to see. 

“It’s incredible for education,” she said. “Our jackpots are not controllable, but this obviously is going to be a bump for revenues going toward education.” 

Corbin said an average of $3 million per day goes toward education. With the extra excitement, tonight’s jackpot should guarantee about $5 million. 

“We’re absolutely thrilled here,” she said. 

Georgia Lottery officials touted collecting a total of about $4.28 billion from ticket sales during the 2018 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. 

Proceeds are divided among four basic cost centers. For example in 2017, winnings paid back to players took $2.737.5 billion; HOPE college scholarships and Pre-K education got $1.101 billion; retailers were paid $269 million; and gaming operations and expenses cost $178.6 million. 

It’s the first billion-dollar jackpot for Mega Millions and the second ever, behind Powerball hitting the milestone in 2016. The previous Mega Millions record was $656 million. One ticket won for about $522 million on July 24, the last time someone matched the five Mega Millions numbers and the Megaball number. That means the jackpot has increased 26 times since it was last won. 

The Powerball jackpot currently is $470 million. It was last won on Aug. 15, with the jackpot steadily increasing over 20 drawings. 

 Corbin said should no one win, the jackpot would continue to rise for another drawing Tuesday.

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