Lottery sets record for sales, funds to state education

Monday, July 18, 2011 at 6:27pm
Staff reports

Unfazed by a sluggish economy, the Tennessee Education Lottery  Corp. has set new records for its fiscal year, announcing Monday what will be an all-time high transfer of $293.5 million to education programs in the state.

The mark represents an increase of $4.6 million over last year’s previous record. Lottery officials also report a record-breaking $1.19 billion in total sales, an impressive 4.2 percent increase over the previous year.

The new total generated for education since ticket sales began in January 2004 now stands at $2.07 billion, while total sales have reached $7.8 billion.

“Our strategies to maximize dollars for education continue to pay off for the students and families of Tennessee,” Rebecca Hargrove, president and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery Corporation, said in a release.  “In this economic environment, and with demand for scholarships growing, it is critical that we design new and exciting products for our players, provide superior customer services, and operate with the utmost integrity and efficiency. In this fashion we have driven sales and increased funding to the education programs the Lottery supports.”

From its inception following the passage of a state-wide referendum, the Tennessee Lottery has remained an engine to generate funds for education programs. Since lottery-funded education programs began in the fall of 2004, including the well-known HOPE Scholarship initiative, they have been expanded to include 14 programs that include 11 different scholarships and grants for Tennessee students seeking assistance with higher education.

According to the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp., the agency that oversees lottery-funded programs, more than 100,000 students received awards to higher education institutions in the state during the past academic year alone.  Lottery funds are also used to support other education-related initiatives, such as after-school programs and an ongoing project to make schools more energy efficient.

In addition to more than $7.8 billion in gross ticket sales since inception, the lottery reports the following details about activity from inception through the end of fiscal year 2011, which ended June 30:

* More than $4.66 billion in prizes won by players, including:

* More than 1,675 prizes of $50,000 or more. Of those, 78 were prizes of $1 million or more (there has been one additional such winner in July);

* More than $509 million paid in retailer commissions.