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Lottery money benefits West Virginia after prizes claimed

Each year the West Virginia Legislature takes the money the lottery produces and puts it into the state's budget. (WCHS/WVAH)

This week's Mega Millions jackpot had a lot of people dreaming about what they would do if they won $1.6 billion.

But have you ever thought about where the rest of the money goes after people claim their prizes?

Harold Carte lives in Charleston and says he spends $20 a week playing the lottery. Unfortunately he has never won a big prize. However, states that participate in the lottery are consistent winners, because the money from ticket sales benefits them.

Randy Burnside with the West Virginia Lottery explained where the money goes in the Mountain State.

"If you look at every dollar you spend on a lottery ticket, the majority goes to prizes for players," Burnside said. "The small administrative cost aspect of it is around 10 to 15 percent. The remainder goes to the state."

Each year the West Virginia Legislature takes the money the lottery produces and puts it into the state's budget. Since 1986, $3.3 billion dollars from the lottery has gone toward education. Senior citizen programs have benefited from $1.25 billion dollars. Tourism and state parks have received $1.1 billion dollars since 1986.

"When you play the lottery, you're helping a lot of great causes in your state," Burnside said. "Everyone likes to dream big about that life changing money and it's an exciting time. It's part of the fun of playing the lottery."

Burnside said if you play at any time, make sure you carefully check your ticket. Many times people win a large amount and don't realize it because they didn't match all of the numbers, he said. There are other combinations in which a player can win money. Burnside said prizes can only be claimed up to 180 days after the drawing.

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