Governor Brad Little, Sherri Ybarra and lottery officials joined a crowd at a school in Nampa on Wednesday to present oversized checks to mark payment.
NAMPA, Idaho- Editor’s note: This article has been originally published by the Idaho Press.
The Idaho Lottery announced a record annual dividend to the state of $72.5 million on Wednesday, which shattered the previous record of $60 million in 2019. Of the $72.5 million in profits donated in the state, $45.3 million went to K-12 public schools in the state. .
Gov. Brad Little, Superintendent of Public Schools Sherri Ybarra and lottery officials joined a crowd at the Iowa Elementary School in Nampa on Wednesday for the presentation of oversized checks to mark the record payout. Last summer, Nampa School District and Iowa Elementary used their share of lottery dividend funds to replace aging HVAC systems, including major school air conditioning upgrades and upgrades to the school’s gymnasium and cafeteria. Five employees from a Boise employee-owned company, ACCO Engineered Systems, spent two and a half months on the project.
“With this year’s dividend, the Idaho Lottery has now returned more than $1 billion to the people of Idaho,” Little said in a statement Wednesday. “Every dollar created by the lottery is a dollar supporting public education for school maintenance projects like here at Iowa Elementary.”
The public schools share of the dividend is distributed with $27.2 million to the school building fund account for maintenance and operations projects; and $18.1 million to the Government Bond Equalization Fund to subsidize interest on public school construction bonds. The remaining $27.2 million went to the State’s Permanent Building Fund for the construction, maintenance, and repair of public buildings; schools and the building fund have split the lottery’s profits since its inception in 1989 after Idaho voters authorized the state lottery.
“The lottery has benefits that reach deep into Idaho communities, far beyond the players who win prizes and the retailers who sell our products,” said Jeff Anderson, Idaho Lottery Director. “Iowa Elementary is just one of thousands of projects completed each year by local contractors and businesses in every school district across Idaho with our dividend dollars. Today, we recognize the benefits of an exceptional year that was beset with extraordinary circumstances and challenges by returning more dividends to the citizens of Idaho than in any previous year.
This year, an Idaho House committee killed a bill allowing the state to continue to be part of the multi-state Powerball game after it expands into Australia and the UK, as it plans to do in the future ; current state law only allows the lottery to be part of the US lotteries. Some members of the House State Affairs Committee have said they are concerned Australia is using lottery profits for “anti-gun” purposes. Others said they were worried that Idaho residents had lowered their odds of winning, the AP reported, but the odds remain the same regardless of how many players participate, as they are not based on the number of players, but the odds of particular numbers being picked. If more than one winner chooses the winning numbers, the jackpots are shared.
Lottery officials initially feared the disappearance of the legislation would mean the end of Powerball in Idaho in August of this year, but negotiations between the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates Powerball, and Australia and the UK failed at the end of April, and the expansion to those countries has been postponed until at least next year.
Idaho was among the first states to join the Powerball game in the 1990s. The multi-state game now includes 45 states, two U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C.
In its history, the biggest Idaho lottery winner has been Brad Duke of Star, who won a $220 million Power Play Powerball jackpot in 2005.
Betsy Z. Russell is Boise Bureau Chief and State Capital Reporter for Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.