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Washington State Lottery sells $1 billion in 2023

Washington state breaks lottery ticket sales record.

Washington State Lottery sells $1 billion in 2023

Lottery tickets are becoming about as popular as flannel and raincoats in Washington. The growing popularity of gaming in the state pushed lottery revenues to a new record for 2023, with the lottery commission reporting $1.1 billion in ticket sales for the year, which was the state's first billion-dollar year ever.

Read on to learn about the most popular games and who collected the biggest jackpots.

Billion-dollar breakdown

In addition to record-setting revenues, the lottery saw significant year-over-year growth compared to 2022. Ticket sales were up a substantial 10% for the year, showing rising demand for gaming in the state.

Scratch-off tickets led the way, accounting for over two-thirds of total sales and generating $669 million for the year. Draw games proved to be about half as popular, earning $344.4 in sales revenue.

According to the commission, part of this success is attributable to improvements in their retail operations. A new automatic lottery kiosk in Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport was the top-selling retail location in the state, with total ticket sales of $3.5 million.

The commission also extended hours for its full-service retail location in Spokane's North Town Mall, which helped it generate $631,988 in sales for the year.

Of course, more sales also means more winners, and players cashed in more than 39 million tickets for a total payout of $619 million. The year's biggest winner for a state-based game took home $8.6 million, and seventeen players became instant millionaires in 2023.

Retailers also took home $50 million in ticket sales commissions.

Education for the win

For 2023, the state's share of lottery revenue totaled $253 million. A law passed by the state assembly in 2010 mandates that lottery funds should go to support “early childhood education, opportunity grants, educational opportunity grants, get ready for math and science scholarships, passport to college promise scholarships, college-bound scholarships, the state work-study program,” among other education initiatives.

The Washington Opportunity Pathways Account was the biggest winner, receiving $199.9 million. This account supports college grants and scholarships, vocational training programs, charter schools, and early childhood education programs.

Of the remaining funds, $45.5 million went to the state General Fund, $7.3 million was deposited into the Economic Development Account, and a half million dollars was placed in the Problem Gambling Account.

Powerball player

While there were thousands of winners, including several who took home multi-million dollar prizes, there was one player who towered over the rest with the magnitude of her jackpot.

Auburn resident Becky Bell won $754 million from the February Powerball drawing, which was the fifth-largest Powerball jackpot of all time. She chose the lump sum payout and collected just over $300 million after paying taxes on her winnings.

Bell is a frequent lottery player who says that she spends $20 a week on tickets. She had already spent her weekly lottery allotment, but then she saw a sign that told her to buy just one more ticket.

Bell, a supply chain analyst at Boeing for 36 years, decided to play again after noticing that the jackpot had risen to $747, the same number as Boeing's famous 747 jumbo jet.

“That's when it hit me… I had to buy one more ticket,” she told Dailyhive.com. And it was especially meaningful for Bell since Boeing had just delivered its last 747 jet six days prior.

“The funny thing was my mom misheard me when I told her how much I won,” Bell recalled. “She said, 'Seven million… that's great, honey. Everyone can have a million.' Then I had to say, 'No, mom, seven HUNDRED million dollars.' Pretty soon, everyone was crying.”

The Fred Meyer grocery store where she bought the winning ticket also received a $50,000 bonus.

Near miss

Becky was almost joined by a second winner to combine for over a billion dollars worth of prizes.

A Washington man managed to match four white numbers plus the red Powerball for the Christmas Day 2023 drawing. Had he managed to get just one more number, he would have collected the entire $638 million jackpot. Even getting five white numbers correct would have scored him one million.

However, he still took home $50,000, which is better than Santa leaving a lump of coal in your stocking.

First ticket

The Washington Lottery first launched in 1982, and since then, it has paid out a total of $11.7 billion in prizes along with an additional $1.1 billion in sales commissions.