I Felt Dumb for (Probably) Wasting $10 on Powerball Tickets, Until I Read This…

lottery funding

So you already know this week’s Powerball lottery is the biggest in history.

And that you shouldn’t pick your lucky numbers — or trust people who say they can increase your odds of winning.

You probably even know what to do if you win the lottery (ie: try to not be like these guys and lose it all).

What you might not know? Where all that ticket money goes.

I didn’t either, until I read this article from The New York Times. I’m glad I did, because the answer made me feel much better about the $10 I probably wasted on Powerball tickets…

Where Does Your Lotto Ticket Money Go?

Forty-four states participate in the lottery, says the Times, with these states earning the most money: New York, which earned $3.1 billion for state programs in 2014; Florida, $1.4 billion; California, $1.3 billion; and Massachusetts, $971 million.

More than half of the participating states “dedicate part or all of their lottery revenue to education programs,” reports the Times.

For example, in Florida, where The Penny Hoarder is based, the money goes towards college scholarships. More specifically, 65% of ticket sales goes to the winners, 27% to education funds, 5.5% to retailers, 1.4% to vendors and 1.3% to operating expenses, according to the Times.

Once I read that, I breathed a big sigh of relief; at least my $10 is going to a good cause.

But, There is a But…

To be fair, the article also notes two points made by lottery critics:

1) That states “have used lottery money not to increase funding, but to supplant it,” simply using lotto funds to “plug up the hole in a kind of shell game.”

2) That the lotto is a tax on the poor, since lower-income people tend to spend a higher percentage of their income on the lottery.

I totally agree: There are many better ways to spend your money than on lottery tickets.

(In fact, we’ve written a whole post on how to make money with the cash you would’ve spent on tickets.)

The thing is, though: The lotto, especially when it’s this big, is kind of fun.

If you’re feeling guilty about the money you spent on tickets — as any true Penny Hoarder probably is — I hope knowing where your money’s going makes you feel a little bit better.

And if you’re one of the many, many people who end up with losing tickets, don’t forget they could be worth thousands!

To read the full New York Times article about the Powerball jackpot and odds, click here.

Your Turn: Did you play the Powerball? Do you feel guilty about it?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

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