No one in South Carolina won last week’s gigantic Mega Millions jackpot, but it looks like the state is a winner anyway.
Lottery sales in South Carolina mushroomed to $10 million — 10 times the normal level — in the three days preceding a record $640 million jackpot last week, officials said.
“This obviously was an historical jackpot run and we had historical sales,” lottery executive director Paula Harper Bethea said Thursday.
Typical sales in the three days preceding a drawing are $1 million, officials said.
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Schools are “the real winner” in the Palmetto State, Bethea said.
Nearly 26 cents of every dollar earned in the year that ended last June 30 — the latest breakdown available — went to education. The remainder went for operating expenses and prizes, according to reports.
Using that formula, the state will net about $2.6 million from the Mega Millions ticket sales.
About three-fourths of lottery profits goes for higher education, mainly scholarships, and the remainder goes mostly to elementary and high school classrooms.
The large prize assured “this game attracted more new players than ever before,” Bethea said.
But it’s too soon to say if the game will become a habit with the newcomers, officials said.
Plenty of players last week were first-timers, said clerk Born Panschal at Sunset Point convenience store near the University of South Carolina campus. But regular players also spent more, he said.
Jackpots are smaller this week, but the lure of winning a few million remains strong, he said.
“It’s still busy,” Panschal said of ticket sales.
A few S.C. players in last week’s drawing won prizes much smaller than the record jackpot, with a maximum of $250,000.