Published: January 15, 2023

Here's where your money goes when you buy a ticket from a state-run lottery

Here's where your money goes when you buy a ticket from a state-run lottery

A Mega Millions customer purchases her tickets for the estimated jackpot of $1.1 Billion at the Fuel On Convenience Store in Pittsburgh, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Twenty-four consecutive drawings later with no grand prize winner named, the Mega Millions jackpot is now over $1 billion, making it one of the largest jackpots in lottery history. The next drawing is Friday.

After several weeks of no winners, the Mega Millions jackpot has increased to an estimated $1.35 billion — the second-largest jackpot in the game's history, according to Mega Millions officials.

While the odds could still be in your favor to win, players are no doubt mapping out what they would do if they were to win the jackpot.

But while lottery winnings are often spent on fancy vacations, cars and paying off debts, the payoff also benefits the states in some ways, as well.

Though specific systems differ between each state, each of the 45 states (along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) that offer lotteries donates a certain percentage of the revenue generated from ticket sales to specific state causes.

(Five states — Alabama, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii and Nevada — don't sell lottery tickets.)

Research shows that approximately 60% of the revenue from state lotteries goes directly to winners, as the states keep the remaining cash after paying out the prize money and paying certain costs such as advertisements.

For larger lotteries, like Mega Millions or Powerball, half of the ticket revenue goes toward the lottery's prize pool. The remaining half goes toward costs including lottery administration and retailer commissions, in addition to other beneficiaries, a Mega Millions spokesperson told ABC News.

Here's a breakdown of each U.S. state lottery and the beneficiaries each one supports, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries:



  • Heritage Fund
  • Commerce Authority Arizona Competes Fund
  • Mass Transit
  • Healthy Arizona
  • State of Arizona General Fund
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate Fund (Unclaimed prizes)
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Department of Gaming
  • University Bond Fund
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Victims
  • Tribal College Dual Enrollment Program




  • Educational Trust Fund




  • Education




  • Division of Parks and Wildlife
  • Conservation Trust Fund
  • Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund
  • School Fund




  • General Fund (which, as with other states, benefits the state's education, roads, health and hospitals and public safety)




  • General Fund
  • Health & Social Services-Problem Gambler Programs


District of Columbia


  • General Fund




  • Education Enhancement Trust Fund




  • Lottery for Education Account




  • Public Schools (K-12)
  • Public Buildings




  • Illinois Common School Fund (K-12)
  • Illinois Veterans Assistance Fund
  • Ticket For The Cure Fund
  • Quality of Life Endowment Fund
  • Multiple Sclerosis Research Fund
  • Special Olympics Fund




  • Build Indiana Fund
  • Teachers Pension Fund
  • Police & Firefighters Pension Fund




  • General Fund
  • Veterans Trust Fund




  • Transfers back to the State




  • Post-Secondary & College Scholarships
  • Literacy Programs & Early Childhood Reading




  • Transfers to State
  • Problem Gambling




  • General Fund
  • Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund




  • Maryland General Fund - Lottery Profit
  • Baltimore City Schools - Lottery Profit
  • Maryland Stadium Authority - Lottery Profit
  • Education Trust Fund - Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) and Table Game Proceeds
  • Local Impact Grants - VLT Proceeds
  • Horse Racing Industry - VLT Proceeds
  • Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Businesses - VLT Proceeds
  • Responsible Gaming - VLT and Table Game Assessments




  • Cities and Towns
  • Arts Council
  • General Fund
  • Compulsive Gamblers




  • Education (K-12)
  • Health and Human Services
  • General Fund




  • General Fund
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund
  • Game & Fish Fund
  • Natural Resources Fund
  • Compulsive Gambling




  • State Highway Fund
  • Education Enhancement Fund




  • Public Education in Missouri




  • State of Montana General Fund




  • Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund
  • Education Innovation Fund
  • Environmental Trust Fund
  • State Fair Support & Improvement Fund
  • Nebraska Opportunity Grant Fund


New Hampshire


  • Education


New Jersey


  • Education and Institutions


New Mexico


  • Lottery Tuition Fund


New York


  • Education


North Carolina


  • Education
  • Alcohol Law Enforcement
  • NC Problem Gambling


North Dakota


  • Compulsive Gambling Fund
  • State General Fund
  • Drug Task Force




  • Education




  • Education
  • Mental Health




  • Economic Development
  • Public Education
  • Parks and Natural Resource Programs
  • Gambling Addiction Prevention & Treatment Programs




  • Programs for older Pennsylvanians


Rhode Island


  • General Fund


South Carolina


  • Education Lottery Fund


South Dakota


  • General Fund
  • Capital Construction Fund
  • Grant to Human Services




  • Lottery for Education Account
  • After School Program




  • Foundation School Fund
  • Multicategorical Teaching Hospital
  • Texas Veterans Commission (Veterans Assistance Fund)




  • Education Fund




  • Direct aid to Public Education K-12




  • Washington Opportunity Pathways Account
  • King County Stadium and Exhibition Center (Qwest Field)
  • Economic Development Strategic Reserve
  • Problem Gambling
  • General Fund


West Virginia


  • Education
  • Senior Citizens
  • Tourism




  • Public Benefit - Total Available for Property Tax Relief




  • Wyoming cities, towns, and counties


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