NC Lottery prizes

Photo shows the estimated prize amounts for NC Powerball ($48 million), Carolina Cash 5 ($110,000), and NC Mega Millions ($325 million) on Friday, Jan. 14.

LENOIR — Lottery players in Caldwell County can play not only for fun and prizes, but also to make a positive impact on education.

The North Carolina Education Lottery was created in 2006 in order to utilize the money raised from lottery ticket sales for the benefit of school systems within each county in the state. Lottery ticket sales from each county do not directly correspond to how much money each county receives; instead, the state legislature determines the amount each county will receive, based on factors such as population and need.

“The NC General Assembly decides each year in the state budget which education programs get the money raised by the lottery and then the money is distributed based on how the programs work,” said Van Denton, director of communications for the NC Lottery.

The Education Lottery impacts many areas of education. For instance, according to nclottery.com, the NC Pre-K program assists 4-year-old children preparing for kindergarten who are at risk of falling behind their peers. In 2021, Caldwell County was allotted $851,079 for this program, which helped 113 children receive a free, academic pre-school experience. Additionally, $267,824 in scholarships were awarded to help 235 Caldwell County students receive a college education.

The Education Lottery also awards money for the construction of new schools. In 2018, $15 million was granted to Caldwell County to build the new Granite Falls Middle School. The project was projected to cost a total of $20 million.

“Part of the school construction funds go back to each county based on student population and another part, such as the $15 million grant that helped to build the new Granite Falls Middle School, is based on need,” said Denton.

In 2021, North Carolina raised a total of $744,351,537 from lottery ticket sales, which was distributed and allotted to each county.

Caldwell County received approximately the same amount of money from the Education Lottery compared to other counties with similar populations, like Burke, Lincoln, and Wilson.

In 2021, Caldwell County lottery sold about $24 million in lottery tickets, ranking the county 48th in the state for lottery ticket sales. In total, the amount of money the county received from the Education Lottery was about $4 million for that year.

Burke County’s population, according to the 2020 Census, was 87,570 residents, which is higher than Caldwell County’s population of 80,652 residents. Burke County ranks at 42nd for lottery sales, with $27.7 million lottery tickets sold in 2021, about $3.7 million more than Caldwell County, and $4.9 million in grants received from the Education Lottery, roughly $1 million more than Caldwell County.

Lincoln County’s population is also higher than Caldwell’s at 86,810 residents. In 2021, ranked at 38th in the state, Lincoln County sold $30.5 million in lottery tickets, $6.5 million more than Caldwell, and received $4.8 million, roughly $800,000 more, in return.

Wilson County’s population is smaller than Caldwell County’s, with 78,784 residents. In 2021, Wilson County ranked at 19th in the state for lottery sales and sold $59.3 million in lottery tickets, significantly higher than Caldwell County, but received only $3.8 million from the Education Lottery, slightly lower than Caldwell County.

It would appear that, even though these counties sold varying amounts of tickets, the amount allotted to each was roughly the same (about $4 to $4.5 million).

The NC Lottery is dedicated to providing games that are fun and low-risk to play.

Individuals seeking help for problem gambling can call the NC Problem Gambling Helpline at 877-718-5543, or visit more thanagame.nc.gov for more information.

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