Here’s how it will be spent :: WRAL.com

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot is up to $1.28 billion ahead of Friday night’s drawing.

The giant jackpot is the nation’s third-largest prize and is the result of 29 consecutive drawings without anyone matching all of the game’s six numbers. That last time someone hit the Mega Millions jackpot was April 15.

“You only need one ticket to win,” said North Carolina Lottery corporate communications director Van Denton.

The surge in Mega Millions ticket sales has already brought in $17 million for education in North Carolina.

Last year, the lottery’s $3.8 billion in sales raised $936 million for education, but that is only a fraction of the $11 billion in the state’s education budget.

“I think the most common misconception about the NC Education Lottery is that it is supplying a lot of funding to schools,” said WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.

In 2021, every county received funding, including Wake County ($65 million), Johnston County ($14.5 million), and Orange County ($8 million).

“We turn our profits over to the state, and each year, in the state budget, the General Assembly decides the best use of that money for education programs,” Denton said.

More than half of last year’s education funds from the lottery went towards paying non-instructional school support staff, including custodians, school assistants and secretaries.

“Only a small amount of what you spend on the lottery is actually going to make it into a classroom,” Leslie said.

The money was also used for pre-K programs, college scholarships, school transportation and building and preparing schools.

“This extra money is extra money, but it certainly isn’t enough by itself to pay for all the things the schools need,” Leslie said.

When the lottery first started in 2006, the state used about 40% of the education lottery money for teacher salaries. Now, the North Carolina Education Lottery does not use any of the money for teacher salaries.

About 24 cents from every dollar spent on the North Carolina Education Lottery actually goes towards education.

What happens if no one matches all six Mega Millions numbers

If no one wins the Mega Millions jackpot Friday night, lottery officials expect the prize will grow to $1.7 billion for the next drawing Tuesday, making it the nation’s largest lottery prize ever.

“There are nine ways to win,” Denton said. “Even if you do not win the $1.2 billion, you may win a prize that will make your day, week [or] your month.”

Before rushing out to spend $2 on a ticket, keep in mind that the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are a staggering 1 in 302.5 million.

The estimated $1.28 billion prize is for players who get their winnings through an annuity, paid annually over 29 years. Nearly all winners take the cash option, which for Friday’s drawing is an estimated $747.2 million.

The jackpot is the latest focus of lotteries that have been conducted in the U.S. and around the world for centuries.