History of the Illinois Lottery: 2011 - 2015

Anything's possible, and it seems like everything’s happened. So grab a coffee and dig in.


  • January 16 - A single winning Mega Millions ticket worth $265 million is sold in Glendale Heights. A Naperville man, Jesus Davila Jr, claims the largest prize to date in Illinois Lottery history at a press event held the following month in Chicago’s James R. Thompson Center.

  • February 3 - Tickets go on sale for a new special-cause instant game: $5 Special Olympics. The first-time game is expected to raise about $2 million for Illinois Special Olympics programs across the state.

  • February 16 - Sales begin for an enhanced/revised St. Patrick’s Day Millionaire raffle. The number of guaranteed prizes expands to 7,122 (previously 509), including three $1 million prizes.

  • February 28 - The final drawing of Hit or Miss was held.

  • March 6 - A new edition of the MS Project instant game is launched with Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. The $5 game is expected to raise nearly $2 million to fund new research into a cause for this debilitating disease.

  • March 27 - Governor Bruce Rauner announces his selection of B.R. Lane to become the next Director of the Illinois Lottery. “Lane’s experience in the gaming industry and with regulatory matters in the public and private sectors make her uniquely qualified for the position,” he said. Lane is a graduate of Morgan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She earned a law degree from Harvard Law School and an M.B.A from the University of Memphis. She previously was Manager of Regulatory Compliance at International Game Technology, and more recently served as Interim Director of the Gary/Chicago International Airport. Prior to that, Lane was Chief of Staff for the City of Gary, Indiana, where she oversaw all city departments from legal and finance to public safety.

  • June 9 - A new $5 Red Ribbon Cash game is launched. It is expected to raise nearly $2 million to assist people living with HIV/AIDS. Total net proceeds for the cause to date are about $5.8 million.

  • June 30 - FY 2015 sales come in at $2.8414 billion (unaudited), a slight increase from the previous year and an apparent single-year record. Contributions to the state’s Common School Fund (K-12 education) grow to more than $678.5 million.

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  • March 6 - The newest MS Project initiative is launched, marking the 7th edition of the instant game of the same name whose proceeds support MS research in Illinois. Since 2008, the Lottery has raised more than $6.5 million to date for the cause.

  • March 18 - The Illinois Lottery holds another St. Patrick’s Day Millionaire Raffle drawing. Four $1 million prizes, and 505 smaller prizes, are awarded.

  • June 27 - The latest edition (7th) of the Illinois Lottery’s instant game, that assists people living with HIV/AIDS, is launched. Red Ribbon Cash, a $2 game, is introduced at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago as part of the “Step Up, Get Tested” campaign offered by the Chicago National HIV Testing Collaborative.

  • June 30 - Illinois Lottery sales for FY2014 (unaudited) come in at nearly $2.802 billion, with some $815 million in net proceeds awarded to good causes, including $668 million, to the Common School Fund.

  • July 13 - The Lucky Day Lotto game-matrix changes from 5/39 to 5/45. This change will result in larger, long-building jackpots. The EZ Match prizes are enhanced, as is the match-2-number prize (which doubles to $2). The base ticket price remains $1.

  • Sept 14 - The final drawing of MY 3 is held.

  • October 9 - The Illinois Lottery introduces the 11th edition of its breast cancer awareness instant game, Ticket for the Cure, named after former Lottery Superintendent Carolyn Adams. When initially launched in 2006, it was the first game of its type in the nation.

  • November 21 - Sales for the New Year’s Millionaire Raffle begin. The number of available $20 tickets drops from 500,000 to 400,000. Three $1million prizes are offered.

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  • January 17 - The Illinois Lottery debuts two successful television commercials that build upon the “Anything’s Possible” branding message. The two commercials--entitled “Socks” and “Shopping”-- show everyday people in familiar situations with surprising outcomes (e.g. dirty socks being deposited by a husband— unsupervised and without prompting—into a dirty-clothes hamper). Five months later “Socks” is recognized by Chicago Business Journal as one of the Top 10 Chicago-produced television ads of all time.

  • January - The Illinois Lottery crosses the $18 billion threshold for total contributions to the Common School Fund and other special causes, since its inception.

  • February 15 The latest edition of St. Patrick’s Day Millionaire Raffle goes on sale statewide. The game sells out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

  • March 8 - Directed by comedian and TV personality Andy Richter, new Illinois Lottery commercials are launched featuring “Gil Mitchell” (Richter), an eccentric and slightly silly news anchor tasked with informing Illinoisans about huge jackpots and other Illinois Lottery news. The statewide campaign includes television, radio, digital, and out-of-home components.

  • March 18 - The Illinois Lottery launches the newest version of The MS Project, whose proceeds are dedicated to researching the cause, prevention, and potential cure of multiple sclerosis, an often debilitating disease. The sixth edition of this “special cause” instant game is expected to generate nearly $1 million for the cause. Since 2008, the Lottery has raised more than $5.7 million for MS research.

  • May 27 - The Illinois Lottery’s first “4th of July” multiple-drawing Raffle is launched. Changes from previous Raffle games include: Tickets cost only $10 (instead of $20), and can be eligible for up to five weekly drawings. Four weekly prizes of $500,000 are awarded, followed by a grand-prize drawing for two $1,000,000 prizes on Independence Day.

  • June 2 - The Illinois Lottery adds a midday drawing to the popular 5-digit numbers game, Lucky Day Lotto. The new, midday drawing occurs at 12:40 p.m. seven days a week, while the evening drawing remains at 9:22 p.m.

  • June 5 - Spread the Word, the newest game that supports people living with HIV/AIDS, is launched via a partnership between the Illinois Lottery, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and a host of Illinois-based HIV/AIDS advocates. The Illinois Lottery is the only lottery in the nation with a game whose profits are used exclusively to fund HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Since 2008, the Illinois Lottery has contributed over $4.7 million to the cause.

  • June 30 - The Illinois Lottery ends Fiscal 2013 with sales of $2.4813 billion, an all-time record.

  • July 9 - A 27-year-old Chicago man, who purchased a 20x20 instant game at a local grocery store, is presented a ceremonial check representing his prize of $20,000 per week for 20 years. The $20,800,000 prize (paid over 20 years) is the largest instant game prize to date in Illinois Lottery history.

  • July 14 - The Lotto game is improved, providing players a chance at potentially bigger jackpots and better overall odds. The cost of Lotto increases from $.50 to $1 for each game-set. Draw dates include Monday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings. Additionally, Lotto’s prize structure awards new prizes and larger average prizes per category—and offers a new match-2-number prize of $1.

  • Sept 1 - “Plus Fireball” is added to the Pick 3 and Pick 4 games by the Illinois Lottery. A bonus ball (Fireball) is drawn from a pool of numbered balls (10 numbered balls 0–9 for Pick 3 and Pick 4). The chosen Fireball, when numbered, can be used to replace each of the numbers drawn during the Pick 3 or Pick 4 drawings, thereby increasing the chance of having a winning ticket.

  • Sept 12 - The Illinois Lottery introduces the 10th edition of its breast cancer awareness/research instant game, Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure. The game is introduced at Loyola University Medical Center, a previous grant recipient of Ticket for the Cure (TFTC) funding. In 2006, TFTC was the first lottery game of its kind in the United States and remains the only lottery game benefitting breast cancer research.

  • Sept 22 - The Lottery adds “Hit or Miss” to the portfolio of draw games. Hit or Miss has four drawings daily, and is played by selecting twelve numbers from a pool of 24. Players win the $250,000 top prize by matching all twelve numbers drawn—or matching none of the twelve numbers drawn. Players who hit or miss all twelve numbers are provided a chance to match a randomly drawn “Good Life” number (1-5), which can result in an additional $2 million in prize money (paid in 20 annual installments of $100,000).

  • Sept 22 - A new Halloween Millionaire Raffle game goes on sale. Halloween Raffle offers four $1 million prizes, and for the first time ever, a $500,000 early bird drawing, and up to 5,000 instant-win prizes of $100 each. The $100 instant-win prizes are randomly printed on select Raffle tickets sold between Sept 22 and Nov 1.

  • Nov 11 - The Illinois Lottery kicks off the statewide launch of the newest Veterans Cash instant lottery game at Volunteers of America of Illinois, Manor House I—a nonprofit dedicated to helping Veterans rebuild their lives in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Since the first Vets Cash game launched in 2006, the Lottery has raised more than $11 million in grants for Illinois Veterans’ organizations.

  • Dec 17 - The Mega Millions jackpot reaches $648 million, the then-second largest jackpot in the game’s history. Grand prize winning tickets are purchased in California and Georgia. One lucky Illinois player wins $1 million, and is among the 1,123,587 winning tickets sold in Illinois for the final drawing.

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  • May 8 - The Illinois Lottery launches a series of MLB instant games featuring the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals. The $2 games offer top cash prizes of $25,000 and 2013 MLB season tickets to the respective ball club. Players can also enter a second-chance drawing to win an all-expense paid trip for four to the 2012 World Series.

  • May 13 - The $3 “Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure” instant game is launched at the Y-Me “Race at Your Pace” breast cancer walk in Chicago’s Grant Park. To date, over $8.5 million has been raised by the Illinois Lottery for the fight against breast cancer.

  • June 30 - The Illinois Lottery ends fiscal year 2012 with record sales of over $2.67 billion and transfers of about $708.6 million to good causes, including $639.8 million to the Common School Fund, $65.2 million for the Capital Projects Fund, and $3.4 million for special-cause instant games.

  • August 7 - Red Ribbon Cash, a $3 special-cause instant game, is introduced. As part of the game launch, a 15-minute documentary on the state of the HIV/AIDS in Illinois is screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. With the latest RRC game, the Illinois Lottery will have raised nearly $6 million to fund programs that provide HIV prevention, awareness, and support services to Illinoisans living with the disease.

  • Oct 31 - The 11th Raffle game, Halloween Raffle, sells out on Oct 31. A total of 509 winning raffle numbers are announced. To date, forty-four $1-million Raffle prizes have been generated.

  • Nov 7 - The Veterans Cash instant game is launched at Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. The new game is expected to raise an additional $900,000 for veterans.

  • September 9 - The Illinois Lottery introduces My 3 – a new draw game where players choose 3 numbers (0-9) for a chance to win. The new game is the first to use animation, in displaying winning numbers, on the Illinois Lottery’s website.

  • October 28 - The Lotto game is revamped by the Illinois Lottery through the addition of “Extra Shot.” Lotto with Extra Shot offers players six more ways to win at a cost of $1 more per 2-game set.

  • December - Illinois Lottery players can now play Powerball online through the Illinois Lottery’s website. This brings to three the number of games that can be purchased by Illinois adults via the internet (the other games are Mega Millions and Lotto).

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  • March 17 - The 9th Millionaire Raffle drawing is held, creating 509 winners, including four $1-mil winners! Once again, 500,000 available tickets sell out early.

  • April - A 3-game “Cash For Life” family of instant games premieres.  The three scratch-off games (priced at $1, $2 and $5) were designed by Northstar Lottery Group, and offer lifetime weekly prizes of $500, $1,000 and $2,500.

  • May - The lottery steps up retailer recruitment efforts, and begins installing state-of-the-art Lottery terminals in over 7,400 retail locations across Illinois.

  • June 30 - The lottery ends Fiscal Year 2011 with total sales of $2.278 billion, the largest single-year sales total in Lottery history. Over $631.8 million is contributed to the state’s Common School Fund; nearly $4 million goes to worthy causes like Illinois veterans and the fight against breast cancer; and over $54 million is contributed to the state’s Capitol Projects Fund.

  • July 1, 2011 - Northstar Lottery Group officially takes over day-to-day Lottery operations, with the Lottery maintaining oversight and providing key input. The Lottery remains a state entity/asset. Northstar’s compensation (bonuses and/or penalties) will be directly tied to the Lottery’s annual, net-revenue performance.

  • August 21 - Retailers begin earning a 1 percent cashing bonus for paying out prizes of up to $600. The cashing bonus is expected to provide retailers some $10.5 million in extra compensation per year.

  • August 22 - Illinois Deputy Lottery Superintendent Victor Golden is named Interim Lottery Superintendent by Governor Pat Quinn.

  • Sept. 6 - A $200,000,000 Cash Spectacular instant game is launched, the highest payout $10 instant game in Lottery history.

  • Oct 15 - The Lottery, once again, becomes its own cabinet-level state agency (separating from the Department of Revenue), with Michael Jones named Lottery Superintendent by Governor Pat Quinn.  It is Jones second stint at the Lottery’s helm, having previously served as Lottery chief from 1981-1985.

  • Oct 27 - The Lottery introduces its first $3 Veteran’s Cash instant game, which features four $40,000 prizes, and 100% of proceeds benefitting Illinois veterans groups. Governor Pat Quinn and Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones hold a Chicago press event that creates substantial statewide media coverage for the ticket/cause.

  • Nov - Holiday Lottery coupons are mailed to 1.8 million Illinois households: coupons include buy 1 get 1 free offers for Lotto, Little Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball, plus a $1 off coupon for instant game purchases of $5 or more.

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