You've probably heard by now that the Mega Millions jackpot is up to a whopping $1.6 billion - the largest in history. Recent changes in the game made it more expensive to play and also, harder to win, but what about the impact on state programs? Where does that funding go in Texas?
Most people who buy a lottery ticket are probably hoping for their big payday, but the higher the jackpot, often the better for state schools.
Belinda Williams was one of many people who bought a Mega Millions ticket in Dallas on Monday.
“Sometimes you know you have those lucky moments and you're like you know what, I can win anything today,” Williams said.
Tuesday's jackpot is so huge, it’s hard to fit the number on highway billboards and gas station monitors. Ones we found still read $999 million.
As the pie grows, so do the pieces.
The current breakdown for all games, according to Texas Lottery:
64 cents on the dollar goes to prizes. That’s up 19 cents in the last 26 years.
Nearly 26% goes to state education. Since 1997, it's contributed $22 billion to the Foundation School Fund, the primary source of state funding for Texas school districts. $1.4 billion of that was given during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, an increase from $1.3 billion the year before.
After than, 5% goes to retailer commissions and 4% to administrative costs. The rest goes to other programs, like supporting Texas veterans. That drew $18 million last fiscal year.
The money going toward schools comes from Powerball and scratch off tickets too. While the percentage seems to be going down slightly, the total dollar amount has been on the rise.
Last October, Mega Millions tweaked the formula, reducing the amount of regular balls from 75 to 70 and raising the mega balls from 15 to 25. The result - more chances for a small prize and worse odds for the big one. That's why we're seeing eye-popping jackpots that often draw new players like December Sidderwhite.
"I'm not like a gambler, but you now that number is enticing and nobody's been winning so it's just been climbing and growing so you know I'm just gonna put my hat in the box to see if I can win,” Sidderwhite said.
It all adds up to big money for a lucky few and the programs they support.
In the last fifteen years since joining Mega Millions, Texas players have been paid out more than $1 billion dollars in Mega Millions prizes.