NC flocked to the lottery during pandemic, raising a record $936 million for schools

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The NC Education Lottery raised a record $936 million for the state’s schools in the past fiscal year, thanks to increased play during the pandemic

The numbers from fiscal 2021 showed a total $3.8 billion in total sales, also a historic high. The portion bound for classrooms and teachers rose 28%, or $2.5 million a day.

Mark Michalko, the lottery’s executive director, credited the rising sales figures to fewer entertainment options during the months of COVID-19.

Fast Play game introduced

During the months of shutdowns, the lottery offered a new game, Fast Play, that offered instant prizes and a growing jackpot.

And in January, the Mega Millions jackpot climbed toward $1 billion, fueling heavy play.

“We faced multiple challenges during these unusual times,” Michalko said in a Monday news release. “We succeeded thanks to the loyalty of lottery players, the support of our retailers all across our state, and a tremendous effort by the lottery staff to find ways to safely complete our mission in raising money for education.”

Money from the lottery supports school staff, school construction, pre-K, scholarships and transportation. Earnings have steadily grown from $62.3 million in 2006 to $729 million last year.

The lottery can be played in more than 7,000 retail stores statewide. Michalko said this year’s sales will be hard to duplicate as other entertainment venues reopen.

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