The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has sold more than $19 million in Powerball tickets as of Tuesday during this latest run that began Nov. 5, and about half of that money will go to scholarships.
Director Bishop Woosley said Wednesday that about 47 of every 50 cents on the dollar sold in tickets goes to Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships. Dividing $19 million by two and then by the $14,000 provided to students over four years means the run has funded full scholarships for roughly 679 students. The lottery has funded more than 30,000 scholarships each of the past six years.
Woosley said the state normally sells between $1.8 to $2.1 million per month in Powerball tickets, depending on the size of the jackpot. But the jackpot has never before reached $1.5 billion, as the current prize now equals. The winner can take a cash option of $930 million before taxes. The winner also can choose to receive a 30-year annuity with fewer taxes withheld.
The next national drawing takes place at 9:59 p.m. CST tonight, with sales ending at 8:59 p.m. Tickets are $2.
Players have purchased in Arkansas more than $15 million in Powerball tickets in January, making it the biggest month in sales so far. More than $27 million in Powerball tickets have been sold this fiscal year, which is barely more than half over. That amount is more than was sold all of last year.
Woosley said that while some core players may be buying more tickets than usual, he suspects the increase largely can be attributed to new players.
The increase in Powerball sales is helping the state reverse a three-year slide that has forced the Legislature to reduce scholarship awards. Woosley said that sales of the lottery’s two big national games, Powerball and Mega Millions, have been sluggish with a lack of big jackpots. Instant winner games fell too but have been up 14 of the last 18 months.
Woosley said the recent increase in Powerball sales has not hurt other games. A good day on instant winner games is typically $1 million in sales, and the lottery has been selling $1.1 to $1.2 million in those tickets over the last couple of weeks.
Woosley said at the end of December the lottery had raised what it had expected to raise this fiscal year, and that was before January’s big numbers. He said the January run should give the lottery a cushion for the rest of the year.