Lottery highlights growth as it recognizes 40th anniversary

Michigan Lottery 40th Anniversary

Former Michigan Lottery Commissioners; Tom Weber, Don Gilmer, Jerry Crandall, Mike Carr and Gus Harrison and current Commissioner M. Scott Bowen cut the cake at the Lottery’s 40th Anniversary celebration on November 13, 2012. (Photo by, courtesy of the Michigan Lottery.)

It all started with one 50-cent ticket.

That was the cost of the first Lottery ticket, which went on sale 40 years ago today. On that ticket, called simply The State of Michigan Lottery, a player could win a top prize of a whopping $1 million.

In that first year, the Lottery generated $36.7 million for public education in Michigan.

Today, Lottery players can choose from nine games plus dozens of individual Instant games with ticket prices ranging from 50-cents to $20, with an occasional offering at $50 per ticket. Prizes too have multiplied dramatically: now, the top prizes are as high as hundreds of millions of dollars in the multi-state games of Mega Millions and Powerball. The Lottery shattered its own record in Fiscal Year 2012, making a record contribution of over $770 million to the School Aid Fund.

“The Michigan Lottery is a true success story. It has made millions of Lottery players prize winners, thousands of retailers commission winners, and most importantly, public education in our great state the beneficiary winners,” said Commissioner M. Scott Bowen.

Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has generated over $17 billion for public education. In 40 years of business, the Lottery has paid an astounding $26.8 billion in prizes, with prize amounts over the years ranging from $1 to the $337 million won by Donald Lawson of Lapeer in August of this year.

Thousands of winners, beginning with Hermus Millsaps of Taylor on
February 22, 1973, have been made millionaires or multi-millionaires as a result of playing the Lottery.

Lottery retailers, from small convenience stores owned by individuals to superstores with multiple locations owned by corporations, sold $50.5 billion worth of tickets and have earned over $3.2 billion in commissions.

The Lottery will continue to evolve, Bowen said, in order to meet the expectations of its players.

“We have grown from offering one paper ticket for 50 cents, to offering a huge array of games with various play styles, to offering second chance drawing opportunities in which players can participate by joining our VIP program,” he said. “Our next logical step is to sell tickets over the Internet. We hope to be able to present this to our players by this time next year.”

Bowen said although players have been asking for the ability to wager over the Internet, it was not until a US Department of Justice ruling in December 2011 that such wagers were legally possible. The Michigan Lottery is working to ensure that its program will have stringent security precautions. While a date on which Internet sales will begin is not yet certain, the first phase of the program, the ability to purchase a subscription for Lottery tickets over the Internet is expected to launch in April 2013.

Lottery highlights, contributions to education by year, distribution of revenues and annual reports are available in the Resource Center at

Click here for more 40th Anniversary photos.

“The Michigan Lottery. All across the state good things happen.”

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