How the Powerball helps pay for education in NC

Published: Jan. 14, 2016 at 1:08 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2016 at 1:08 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Powerball jackpot is now up to more than a billion dollars. As people buy tickets, they do it to obtain wealth and help fund education in North Carolina.

NC Lottery officials say that for every $2 spent on a Powerball ticket in North Carolina, 76 cents goes to help pay for teacher salaries, teacher assistants, construction, scholarships, Pre-K programs and financial aid. Since November, Powerball fever has generated more than $65 million in ticket sales for the state. That amount means more than $25 million will go to education.

"People don't think the money is actually going to education, and that is completely the opposite," NC Lottery Public Affairs Specialist Kathleen Jacob said. "$521 million is a lot of money, and it meets a lot of needs across the state."

Jacob tells WBTV the lottery raised $521 million for education last year.

"In fiscal year '15," Jacob said, "It funded thousands of teacher positions and school buildings, and every county will have a story with how this education money has helped improve their district."

This year's goal is to raise $529 million to help fund education. That money will be distributed among 100 school districts. Lottery officials say people's misconception comes from their belief that the lottery should pay for it all.

"We aren't meant to cover the entire cost," Jacob said. "We are just there as one way to help fund education in North Carolina."

Some players believe lottery officials should change the way the money is spent. Last year Mecklenburg county received more than $25 million to pay for 435 teaching positions. Some believe the money should be spent on teacher raises instead of teacher positions.

"Lot of stress on the teachers," lottery player Dennis Walker said. "So I think they should be paid for it."

Last year the lottery also helped 635 disadvantaged Pre-K students get a jump start to their education. Ticket sales generated more than $11 million to go to that program.

"I thank them from the bottom of my heart," CMS Board Chairperson Mary McCray said. "But we still have many Pre-K kids who we still can't get into a Pre-K program."

Lottery officials say the Powerball is not the most successful game in NC. They say the scratch off tickets are the most popular.

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