Fresno schools benefit from Powerball fever

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Lottery officials say 80 cents of a $2 Powerball ticket goes back to schools. (KFSN)

Powerball fever is spreading across the country.

That jackpot is up to a historic $1.4 billion and Powerball tickets are selling fast at Village Liquor in northeast Fresno and local residents are dreaming big. "If we won we would pay off the house and get cars for all of the kids and then travel," Misty Boni of Clovis said.

The jackpot is so high, the machines can't even display the number.

Around the country, the craze is taking over, but the Golden State, which has only had Powerball since 2013, reigns supreme. "California is leading the way among all the other states as far as sales right now," California Lottery Central Valley Lottery sales manager Henry Hernandez said. "We're doing 12 percent of all the sales."

In just one week, tickets sales increased by 40 percent compared to all of last year. Each ticket sale means money for education. Lottery officials say 80 cents of a $2 Powerball ticket goes back to schools.

Local districts say they're seeing money from the California lottery. "So, last year we got about $12 million from the lottery and that money we used primarily for instructional materials and additional teaching staff," Tammy Townsend with the Fresno Unified School District said.

Townsend is the executive officer of Fresno Unified's State and Federal programs. She says those dollars are used for supplemental materials or programs like music, the district may not have the funds for.

While the $12 million sounds like a lot, it's just a drop in the bucket. "That's a relatively small portion of our actual budget," Townsend said. "It's only less than 2 percent of our total budget."

The Powerball lottery is Wednesday night. Officials say if no one wins, the jackpot, it could go up even more and make even more money for schools.

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