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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

$1 billion in jackpots spur Washington lottery sales, boosting education programs

Powerball, Mega Millions both have jackpots of more than $500 million this week. Even if you don't win, some Washington state education programs will get a boost.

OLYMPIA, Wash — There is more than $1 billion up for grabs this week and that’s great news for Washington's Lottery — as well their education beneficiaries.

Wednesday's Powerball jackpot is $550 million. There was no jackpot winner on Tuesday for Mega Millions' drawing, worth $625 million — though one Washingtonian won $1 million. The next Mega Millions drawing is Thursday.

The odds of winning both are… too ridiculous to consider. But the good news is that Washington's Lottery reports ticket sales have increased by about 25% over the past few weeks, and that’s a win for some Washington state education programs.

About 18 cents of every dollar goes to support the Washington Opportunity Pathways account, an education program that funds college scholarships and grants, as well as early childhood education programs, said Kristi Weeks, the director of legal services for Washington's Lottery.

Last year, $147 million went to education programs from state lottery sales.

“That means last year we paid for 18,000 people in Washington to go to college from lottery dollars,” Weeks said.

The Washington Student Achievement Council manages financial distribution. In the last 10 years alone Washington Lottery money has accounted for $1.2 billion dollars in education support.

Any unclaimed state lotto winnings (you have 180 days to claim) are placed back into the fund for education and other prizes.