At one point I added this comment:
Therefore, if anyone else besides me is interested in the simple-version answers to the above questions, read on.
So, then, the Mega Millions lottery - and the Powerball lottery, too - is jointly run by a coalition of the 44 states which sell the lottery tickets. According to a report by cnbcnews.com the money taken in from the sale of Mega Millions tickets is divided thus:
60% is given out in prize money.
15% goes to retailers, marketing and operations.
25% goes back to the states to spend as they wish.
Therefore the most recent $1.6 billion prize, most of which was won the other night by somebody in South Carolina, was only 60% of all the ticket revenue taken in. Which, according to my calculations, means that people in this country spent over $2.6 billion since July 24 when the last Mega Millions lottery prize was paid out.
In the past 3 months a little over $2.6 billion was collected in Mega Millions money.
$1.6 billion (60%) was (or soon will be) paid out (minus the taxes) in prize money.
A little over $400 million will be paid to retailers, marketing and operations.
And $600 million will be paid to the states.
But that $600 million has to be divided among 44 states, so that means that each state will get a little over $13.6 million.
Most of the states purportedly earmark lottery income for education, though the money tends to be tossed into the general state fund, and how much of it is actually spent on education is a question of faith. In any case, it's obvious that lottery money has not, as initially promised, bailed out education in this country.
In Ohio, for example, an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch found that, while state officials did use lottery money for education, they then cut the amount of the lottery money out of state funding for education.
So for Ohio, the lottery is a zero net profit for education, but more money for the general state fund to spend on whatever state legislators want to spend it on, which is, well, who knows what?
Come think of it I guess the Mega Millions, Powerball, and all the other state lotteries are, in effect, a sneaky way to collect more taxes.
In fact, with the U.S. national debt up over $21 trillion maybe the U.S. Treasury should start running a Mega Trillions lottery to raise more revenue. But it would probably be smarter hold off doing it until the next president. By then our country will be mega-broke.