Mom of 4 wins $188 million Powerball jackpot, but state governments are still losing

When it comes to Powerball, some states may be losers, but a 26 year-old North Carolina mom of 4 is a big winner. Marie Holmes revealed herself to be one of three winners in the Wednesday drawing of a staggering $564 million jackpot. She’s eligible to take home $188 million in payouts, or a single check for $127 million.

Holmes talked about the moment she realized she is a winner with NBC affiliate WECT:

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,” she said. Holmes told the station that she was forced to quit her jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s to care for her four children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She said that she plans to give to her church, buy a new house and set up college funds for the kids.

The huge jackpot has been good for states where ticket sales surged over the last few weeks, but since 2013 overall ticket sales have been down 35%. Why? Smaller jackpots and more frequent winners haven’t attracted players since the last big pot in December, 2013 says Ben Leubsdorf of The Wall Street Journal. PBS NewsHour weekend anchor Allison Stewart spoke to Leubsdorf about the effects lagging ticket sales have had on state budgets.

“So, when you have a big reduction in Powerball playing, you have got state lotteries saying, well, we have got to make up that revenue somehow. So, some states, Virginia in particular, have tweaked their schedule to roll out more scratch-off games, instant win games to make that up lost revenue to make sure that they don’t have a shortfall when it comes time to settle the budget,” Leubsdorf said.

Perhaps state coffers would be less empty if more people considered Paul Solman’s economic argument that playing lotteries can actually Make Sen$e, that is, unless you can’t afford it.