A single Mega Millions jackpot winner is reported in South Carolina

A single Mega Millions jackpot winner is reported in South Carolina
World-Herald News Service

Lottery officials said early Wednesday that a single ticket purchased in South Carolina won the record-setting $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot.

The winning numbers were 5-28-62-65-70, with a Mega Ball number of 5. Lottery officials estimated that 75 percent of all number combinations had been purchased by the time of Tuesday night’s drawing.

Four people in Nebraska were “second-tier” winners, said Neil Watson, a spokesman for the Nebraska Lottery. One person in Ogallala won $30,000 because he or she used the Megaplier option that increases the pot. Without the Megaplier, Watson said, the person would have won $10,000.

Three other holders of tickets — purchased in Norfolk, Denton and Lincoln — won $10,000, Watson said.

In Iowa, one person in Davenport purchased a $1 million winning ticket by matching the first five numbers but missing the Mega Ball number, said Mary Neubauer, an Iowa Lottery spokeswoman. Three other tickets earned $10,000. They were purchased in Ames, Indianola and Marion.

Since the last drawing Friday night, $5.6 million in Mega Millions tickets were sold in Iowa and $2.74 million in Nebraska. On Tuesday alone, Mega Millions sales hit $3.3 million in Iowa and $1.77 million in Nebraska.

The estimated cash option for the largest grand prize in U.S. lottery history — should the winner choose to take a one-time lump-sum payment instead of annual payouts over 30 years — is $913 million, according to Mega Millions officials.

Lottery fever struck nationwide ahead of Tuesday’s drawing, with jackpot chasers waiting in long lines for tickets.

Mega Millions officials count on enormous jackpots to draw in players who would ordinarily avoid participating.

Lotto sales surge means more cash for environmental programs, scholarships, Nebraska State Fair

There’s only a tiny chance that a lucky prize winner from Nebraska or Iowa will end up claiming the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots, which this week ballooned to a combined $2.2 billion.

What is certain, though, is that some of the cash Midlanders plunked down for lotto tickets in the past week — or any week, for that matter — will be recycled back to worthy causes in the two states.

About $1.50 out of every $2 lotto ticket is plowed back into prize money or covers the administrative costs of operating the lottery. The remainder is dedicated to specific needs as is set out in state statutes.

With the eye-popping jackpots, lotto sales are off the charts. In Nebraska, Mega Millions sales hit $3.4 million last week, about $2.5 million more than the week before. Powerball sales totaled $1.9 million, topping the previous week’s sales by almost $1.1 million.

That translates to about $900,000 in “extra” profits to Nebraska charities last week alone.

Who gets the proceeds in Nebraska?

By law, Nebraska divvies up its lotto profits among four groups:

  • 44.5 percent to the Nebraska Education Improvement Fund.
  • 44.5 percent to the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
  • 10 percent to the Nebraska State Fair.
  • 1 percent to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.

The state’s voters settled on that formula with the passage of Amendment 4 in 2004.

The Nebraska Legislature decides how to spend the Education Improvement Fund, but its centerpiece program has been the Nebraska Opportunity Grant program, which awards need-based scholarships for Nebraska students to attend colleges, universities and community colleges within the state.

The Environmental Trust awards competitive matching grants to applicants from across the state for projects involving air, soil, water and habitat conservation, or municipal waste and recycling. The list of 2018 grants included $150,000 to Keep Omaha Beautiful for tree-planting, $427,900 to Fontenelle Forest for habitat restoration, and $99,234 to Angels on Wheels of Omaha for electronics recycling.

“We’ve got projects in all 93 counties,” said Mark Brohman, Environmental Trust executive director. “Nebraska is very lucky to have the trust.”

The Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund supports a hotline for people who can’t control their gambling habits, a problem both state lotteries warn about in their press releases.

How much money is that in Nebraska?

Every three months, each of those groups gets a check from the lottery. In recent years, those quarterly checks have totaled $8 million to $12 million — except for the first quarter of 2016, when a record Powerball jackpot pushed the total to $14 million, the highest amount in the Nebraska Lottery’s 25-year history.

How does it work in Iowa?

Iowa doesn’t earmark its lottery profits for any specific cause. All of the lottery money is deposited in the state’s general revenue fund — though for the past several years, $2.5 million a year is dedicated to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, which helps pay emergency expenses not covered by other benefits or programs for military veterans and their families.

Through the end of September, the Iowa Lottery had deposited about $18.5 million into the state coffers.

What will the record jackpots do for Nebraska and Iowa causes?

It’s not yet clear how much of a windfall either state will reap from the current run of lotto sales.

“It is going to make a significant difference,” said Mary Neubauer, an Iowa Lottery spokeswoman. “There’s ultimately a really great effect from this jackpot fever.”

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