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History of the Illinois Lottery: 2015 - 2017

2017

  • January 18—A group of 23 Jacksonville residents win a $1 million Powerball prize.  The group members, many of whom belong to a local Knights of Columbus chapter, bought their ticket at a local bowling alley.  Each group member received $43,478.26.  Paying bills, taking a vacation and buying a car are just some of the future plans of individual group members.
  • February 10—Tickets for the 2017 St Patrick’s Day Raffle go on sale, marking the return of the popular game.  The game features three $1million prizes, 250 $1,000 prizes and 9,000 $100 prizes.  Tickets cost $20 each.
  • February 14—A Special Olympics instant game is launched in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Soldier Field in Chicago.  The third iteration of the $3 game is designed to support Illinois Special Olympics, which has more than 40,000 participants.
  • March 16—The newest “MS  Project” instant game is launched. The game costs $3 and features top prizes of $50,000.  All proceeds benefit MS research in Illinois.
  • May 4—Maryville resident Denise Banks-Wilson wins $4.75 million in the Lotto game. Banks-Wilson, a divorce mediator, was attending a work conference when she saw the winning ticket was sold in Springfield (where she had recently bought a ticket).  She called her husband and asked him to check her ticket, which was at home, and found out it had won.  “I was absolutely shocked,” she said.
  • June 30— Fiscal Year 2017 ends, with Lottery sales topping $2.84 billion for the year. More than $723 million in proceeds is forwarded to good causes, including $705.6 million to the Common School Fund and $15 million to Capital Projects.
  • August 11—The Mega Millions drawing produces one winner of $393 million, who bought the ticket at a Palos Heights BBQ restaurant. It is the then largest prize in Illinois Lottery history. The winner, Patricia Busking, and her husband spent a week consulting with family and a professional investment team before claiming the prize in a one-time payment of $246 million.  The selling retailer, Nick’s BBQ, received a $500,000 selling bonus.
  • October 10—The Lottery introduces the 14th version of its “Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure” instant game, which, since its inception, has raised more than $12 million for fight against breast cancer.
  • October 31—The first drawing of an enhanced Mega Millions game is held.  Starting jackpots more than double to $40 million, and jackpots grow faster.  The revised game features better odds of winning a $1 million prize, and higher levels for most secondary prizes.  Tickets cost $2 each.  The cost of the Megaplier option remains only $1.  
  • November—The Lottery announces the return of holiday instant game second-chance drawings. Players enter their eligible holiday instant tickets online at illinoislottery.com. Four different 2nd-chance drawings will be held, with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $1million.  The four eligible games include: $1 Holiday Cash, $2 Merry Money, $5 Holiday Bonus, and $10 Merry Millionaire. 

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2016

  • January 13—The record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot drawing produces a flood of winners in Illinois and other states. Illinois saw two $1million winners, six $100,000 winners, 45 winners of $50,000 and more than 893,000 other winners of smaller Powerball prizes.  During the jackpot rollup, Illinois Lottery retailers earned more than $5.3 million in sales commissions.
  • February 16—A second iteration of the Lottery’s “Special Olympics” instant game is launched at Soldier Field in Chicago, where the first Special Olympics games were held in 1968.  The game is expected to raise about $1million for programs that serve some 40,000 Special Olympics athletes in Illinois.
  • March 17—The Lottery launches the latest version of its MS instant game.  Proceeds from game sales help pay for research into the cause and prevention of Multiple Sclerosis.  Tickets cost $3 each, with prizes topping out at $50,000.  As of the launch date, more than $7 million has been raised for the cause through the sales of previous MS tickets.
  • April 4—The Lottery teams up with popular food trucks, select grocery stores, gas stations and a popular motorcycle shop to surprise people across the state with sweet treats and free gasoline, groceries and Lottery tickets, as part of a statewide “Day of Luck” campaign.  Lottery representatives surprise and delight thousands of unsuspecting consumers in Chicago, Joliet, Springfield and Marion.
  • April 18—A $3 “Loteria” instant game is introduced at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.  The game is an instant ticket version of the Bingo-style game long popular in the Mexican culture.  Players scratch off a “caller’s card” to reveal 14 symbols and hope to match four images with the ones other their Loteria card.  Prizes top out at $50,000.  The game proves very popular with consumers.  
  • June 30—Fiscal Year 2016 ends, with Lottery sales topping $2.85 billion for the year (an all-time record). Nearly $695 million in proceeds is forwarded to good causes, including $691.5 million to the Common School Fund.
  • August 16—The Lottery launches the return of a Wheel of Fortune instant game at the State Fair in Springfield. The $5 game includes prizes of up $250,000.  The game also features a 2nd-chance promotion for one-of-kind trips to Hollywood that include the chance to play in a non-broadcast, Lottery players-only version of the iconic game with Pat Sajak and Vanna White.  The Lottery’s State Fair retailer, 5th St Foods from Lincoln, sells a $250,000 winner to one of the thousands who purchase Lottery tickets at the fair each year.
  • September 16—A husband and wife from Tuscola purchase a Mega Millions ticket for that evening’s drawing that ends up winning more than $133 million.  The couple, who were born and raised in Central Illinois, bought their ticket in Tuscola, and claimed the prize in the name of the Elaine Francis Trust. 
  • October 12—The newest version of the Lottery’s Ticket For the Cure instant game is introduced.  The game is named after Carolyn Adams, the former Lottery Superintendent who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2007.  To date, the Lottery has raised more than $11.5 million to support breast cancer research, awareness and education in Illinois.
  • October 24—Greg Smith is appointed Acting Lottery Director by Governor Bruce Rauner.  Smith comes to Illinois from the Vermont, where he led the Vermont Lottery to its largest-ever sales and profits.
  • November 17—The latest version of Veterans Cash instant game is introduced.  The first game was launched in 2006. Since then, more than $13.3 million has been raised for Illinois veterans programs. 

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2015

  • July—Winners of a $262 million Mega Millions jackpot are announced. The jackpot from the June 2, 2015, drawing was claimed by Blue Island residents John Williams and Neal Louge, and is the then-second largest jackpot in Illinois history.
  • July 4—The Lottery sponsors huge fireworks shows in several Illinois communities, including the “largest Fireworks Show” in Southern Illinois” at the Benton Bluegill Music Festival. Other communities that saw Lottery sponsored fireworks included Champaign, Peoria and Rockford.
  • August—Michelle Baymon of Hanover Park claims a $15 million prize in the Lottery’s World Class Millions instant game.  “This is an incredible blessing,” she said.  “I never expected something like this to happen to me.”
  • August—A family of Cash For Life instant games is introduced, marking the return of the Lottery’s most successful instant game ever.   Games are offered at $1, $2, $5 and $10 price points, with respective top prizes of $500, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 a week for life.
  • September 1—A new $2 “The Walking Dead” instant game is launched, based on the hit AMC TV series.  It features top prizes of $20,000 and 10 chances to win on each ticket.
  • September 18—Tickets go on sale for Halloween Raffle, the game with the best odds of winning a $1million prize.  Three players win $1million top prizes at game’s end, with 8,253 others winning prizes between $50 and $100,000.
  • October 4 – Changes to the Powerball game result in bigger jackpots, a better 4+1 prize, more prize winners, and a new Power Play 10X multiplier on non-jackpot prizes.  The changes result in higher jackpots and increased consumer demand. 

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