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State Lottery: Who Are the Winners?

Special Report on the State Lottery.
        Last October a couple in Fresno won the $213 million Powerball jackpot. It was a big win for the Mitchell's, who took the lump sum payment of $123 million after taxes.
        But, besides some well publicized big name winners, who are the real winners for California's Lottery system?
        How much do our schools really collect from the lottery?
        The California Lottery hit the television airways in 1985.
        You could say, voters, who approved it with prop 37. They took a chance and spun "the big wheel" on the lottery, partly because they where told - it would help our schools.
        Since then.. the lottery system has grown into $4.5 billion dollar a year business.
        California schools collect about $1.3 billion of that per year, which sounds like a lot, but its not.
        In fact, its only about 1.5 percent of the state's overall education budget. Put another way 98.5% of education is funded by taxpayers, not lottery players.
        So, if the schools aren't the big winners who is ? We went to the California State Lottery headquarters in Sacramento to find out.
        Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the lottery agreed to meet with us. Inside the state's modern, sleek multi-million dollar six story lottery building, is a display that highlights some of the lottery's milestones.
        It includes the now retired lottery wheel from the 80's. Back in 1985 California only had one lottery game, a scratcher card. Now, there are 25 scratcher cards. Plus, Powerball, Super Lotto Plus and Mega Millions. All available at over 21,000 retail outlets.
        And with more games, come ever larger jackpots, and the inevitable buying frenzy.
        So, what's the threshold when all of a sudden, everybody is buying like crazy?
        "Its more around the range of 300 million, believe it or not," said Traverso.
        So, where does all the money go? Schools get about 30%, administration cost are 12%, and winners collect 58%
        Some winners are frugal, others aren't.
        In 2001, Al and Carmen Castellano, from San Jose won 41 million. They've managed to keep almost all of it.
        That same year, Jose Romo won the Superlotto Plus. But, just two years ago he ended up losing the horses on his ranch in Fresno County, because he couldn't afford to feed them.
        Frugal or not, most winners seem to disappear, after they win.
        Big winners, like the Mitchell's of Fresno, who declined to be interviewed for this story, quietly disappear and have hired a good lawyer to help them manage their new found fortune. Which, is a smart move, said certified financial planner, Monica Hensley.
        Although she doesn't represent the Mitchells, her general advice for any would-be winners.. is simple.

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Fresno, CA

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