Who wants to be a millionaire? Everybody who plays the lottery

By Thomas Wilson

   The New York lotto gives players the chance to pick six numbers from one to 51. The odds of picking the right six-number combination are 18 million-to-1.
   Tennessee made history Tuesday when the first instant-win lottery tickets went on sale at thousands of retail locations across the state.
   While the odds of winning the lottery are as remote as getting Anna Kournikova's telephone number, Tennessee Lottery Education Corporation officials expect Tennesseans by the hundreds of thousands to purchase tickets in their quest to become big winners.
   The state lottery is modeled on the Georgia Lottery Corporation which funds college scholarships to academically eligible students as well as pre-kindergarten programs. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission estimates more than 65,000 students will be eligible to receive $88 million in scholarships by the fall of 2004. The TLEC anticipates the state will hit the $88 million mark needed to award the scholarships by July 1.
   The $1 million ticket lottery games are expected to begin in March. The instant win success may dictate how soon the state begins selling the lotto tickets for the $1 million big game jackpot.
   There are five scholarships or awards within the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship Program: the HOPE Scholarship, General Assembly Merit Scholarship, Need-Based Supplemental Award, Tennessee HOPE Access Grant, and the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant for technical school students.
   The HOPE Scholarship awards $3,000 per year to students graduating in 2004 to attend four-year public or private schools. For students attending a two-year private or public school, the amount received is $1,500 per year.
   Students who graduated from high school in June 2003 are eligible to receive HOPE Scholarships provided they meet standards set forth for incoming college freshmen, have maintained at least a 2.75 GPA and completed at least 24 credit hours during their first year of college.
   State-run lotteries have become revenue staples for dozens of states around the nation. States that earmark 100 percent of lottery proceeds to education include Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia earmark lottery proceeds for general funds, which may or may not fund education.
   The New York Lottery reported sales of $5.3 billion for the 2003 fiscal year, an increase of over $600 million from the previous year's figures, according to the lottery's annual report. The annual report also listed $3.6 billion in operating expenses with $3.06 million representing prize payouts.
   The Illinois Lottery, with sales of $1.59 billion in fiscal year 2003, is the fourth largest revenue generator in the country, contributing more than half a billion dollars annually to Illinois. With operating expenses of only four percent of sales, the Illinois Lottery purports to be one of the most cost-efficient and profitable lotteries in the world.
   When the Illinois Lottery began in 1974, proceeds were not earmarked for education. In 1985, a law was enacted to deposit all lottery profits in the state's Common School Fund which helps finance K-12 public schools throughout Illinois.
   Lottery proceeds of $540 million in fiscal year 2003 represent about seven percent of the state's contribution to schools -- or three percent of the total $19.52 billion spent on education from all sources (state, local, and federal).
   The Illinois Lottery has contributed more than $11.7 billion to the state since the first ticket was sold in 1974.
   The Massachusetts State Lottery was established by the legislature in 1971, in response to the need for revenues for the 351 cities and towns of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts lottery revenues eclipsed $4.2 billion in fiscal year 2002, according to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. The state's lottery revenues have risen almost every year since 1991, according to the MSLC.
   The Georgia Lottery Corporation - the game modeled for Tennessee's own lottery system - enjoyed its most lucrative year in 2003 with more than $2.6 billion in sales and more than $751 million in proceeds to the Lottery for Education Account. Since inception, more than $2.5 billion has been appropriated and distributed to more than 750,000 HOPE Scholarship recipients; $2.1 billion has been appropriated to Pre-K programs throughout the state and $1.8 billion has been distributed for technology and capital projects at Georgia colleges since the program's inception 10 years ago.
   Of course, state lotteries don't stop at $1 million. Eleven states including Massachusetts, Virginia, and Georgia participate in the "MegaMillions" super lottery jackpot where winners can become multimillionaires with the correct, albeit astonishingly remote, selection of six numbers.
   The MegaMillion game costs $1 per ticket with players picking six numbers from two separate pools of numbers: five different numbers from 1 to 52, and one number from 1 to 52. A player wins the jackpot by matching all six winning numbers.
   The "Powerball" lotto games are operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association, a non-profit, government-benefit association owned and operated in 24 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands. All profits are retained by the state lottery and are used to fund projects approved by state legislatures. Powerball lotto games combine a large jackpot game and a cash game. Powerball games had an estimated jackpot of $46 million Monday night.