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NC Rep. Paul Stam on Powerball: ‘Not that many jacks in the pot’

What would you do if you won over $1.5 billion?

Lottery ticket purchasers talk about what they would do if they won the $1.5 billion-plus Powerball lottery.
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Lottery ticket purchasers talk about what they would do if they won the $1.5 billion-plus Powerball lottery.

As the jackpot rises to $1.5 billion, state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam is throwing some ice water on Powerball fever.

Stam is an Apex Republican and the House speaker pro tem, and he’s also a longtime critic of the state lottery. On the eve of Wednesday’s big drawing, he issued a two-page news release making the case that the advertised $1.5 billion “greatly exaggerates the prize.”

“The largest-value ‘jackpot’ in the history of the NC Lottery is up for grabs Wednesday night at $1.5 billion,” Stam wrote. “Unfortunately, this also means that gamblers are prey to deceptive advertising techniques that the NC ‘Education’ Lottery has employed since its inception. The problem is that there are not that many ‘jacks’ in the ‘pot.’”

Stam explains that the prize will pay out only $930 million if the winner takes the lump-sum payment option.

“It could just as well be advertised as a ‘Trillion Dollar Jackpot’ with the option of taking the money over 1,000 years for the winner’s heirs,” he said. “That would really get sales moving!”

Stam says the legislature should ban “deceptive advertising” in which the lottery lists the odds of winning a prize but doesn’t list the odds for various prize levels. His release lists the odds of the winning the jackpot at one in 292 million and winning a $100 prize at one in 14,494.

“Lottery gamblers disproportionately have lower incomes and less education,” he said. “They are enticed to spend money for a reward they are much less likely to receive than they even imagine. If this were a private swindle it would be banned by the Federal Trade Commission.”

Stam’s full missive is available here.

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