The N.C. Education Lottery raised $936 million to support education programs in North Carolina in fiscal year 2021.

The record earnings for education result from record lottery ticket sales of $3.8 billion, up 26 percent from the year before. Earnings for education jumped by $206.6 million, or 28 percent. On average, the lottery generated $2.5 million a day for education in fiscal year 2021, according to unaudited year-end results.

Mark Michalko, executive director of the lottery, attributed the results to unique circumstances in the state’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic combined with exceptional performance of popular lottery games enjoyed by North Carolinians.

Michalko said consumers turned to lottery games during the times in the year when they had few other options for entertainment. He said lottery players found lots of ways to have fun, including with a new game called Fast Play, that provides both an instant prize and a progressive jackpot, major life-changing jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions games, and an array of new scratch-off tickets.

“Just like other sales and marketing brands, we faced multiple challenges during these unusual times,” Michalko said. “We succeeded thanks to the loyalty of lottery players, the support of our retailers all across our state, and a tremendous effort by the lottery staff to find ways to safely complete our mission in raising money for education.”

Michalko said hitting those sales and profit records again this year will be a challenge as other competing entertainment options begin to reopen across the state, but that the lottery will stay focused on driving continued growth and success in its efforts to raise funds for education.

The additional dollars support education programs in all 100 counties of the state, as determined each year by legislators in the state budget. The money raised helped:
• Build and repair schools.
• Make college more affordable through scholarships and grants based on financial need.
• Support school systems with the costs of school workers and transportation.
• Support NC Pre-K, a free academic prekindergarten program for at-risk four-year-olds.

North Carolinians won the most money ever in prizes, with the lottery paying out more than $2.4 billion. Retailers across the state also earned $262 million in commissions from lottery ticket sales, $52.5 million more than the year before. With more than 7,000 retail locations, the commissions play an important role in the state’s retail economy.

At the end of the fiscal year, the lottery’s total contribution since inception in March 2006 exceeded $8.2 billion.