WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – According to new data from the North Carolina Education Lottery, one of the winningest stores in the state is located in Southeastern North Carolina.
Through a public records request, WECT obtained data on sales and winning tickets from the NC Education Lottery since its inception in 2006.
The data shows Calabash Food & Fuel sold the most scratch-off tickets that won $600 or more in the past five years. The store also rounded out the top ten in the state in terms of draw game wins of more than $600 since the inception of the NC Education Lottery in 2006.
However, it’s important to note, the wins follow sales data. Calabash Food & Fuel topped the state in sales of scratch-off tickets for the past five years.
“That’s a great store for lottery sales,” said Van Denton, Director of Communications for the NC Education Lottery. “They’re one of the top selling stores in the state. When our sales reps go into the store there, clerks say, ‘Hey, are we still number one?’ So, they are very excited about selling lottery and that probably is one reason why they have lots of sales. Y’all know this, Brunswick County is enjoying a lot of growth right now and some of that play comes from that growth. If you look at the growth you’ll find a lot of people are coming from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, places where lottery has been part of the culture for a long time and they bring that play to Brunswick County.”
Denton said the store also takes advantage of its location near the North and South Carolina border.
“You find people from South Carolina who find our games fun and exciting and so they come over and play games in North Carolina,” he said.
North Carolina has more scratch-off choices and bigger scratch-off prizes than South Carolina.
“We have a scratch off games that pay out prizes of $2 million, $4 million, $5 million, up to $10 million and so the South Carolina lottery doesn’t have scratch off games that have prizes that big,” Denton said. “That could be part of it. We have games like Carolina Keno and Fast Play that aren’t offered in South Carolina and people like those games. Calabash is probably the closest place they can get a ticket.”
Marie Holmes made headlines around the state and around the country when she purchased the ticket that took home the $188 million Powerball jackpot in 2015 — the largest jackpot winnings in North Carolina history at the time.
Since then, Brunswick County gained a reputation for being lucky in the lottery.
The NC Education Lottery data shows while Brunswick County ranks 15th in draw game sales, it is 7th in wins out of the 100 counties in North Carolina.
“Eventually the wins will follow the play,” said Denton. “So, if Brunswick County is high in sales over time, they will be high in wins as well. If the Calabash store is the top selling store in the state, over time they will have a lot of wins too.”
In the five counties in Southeastern North Carolina, New Hanover County has the highest sales numbers and the county therefore has the most draw game wins at 659. Brunswick County was second with 540.
For scratch-offs wins in the past five years, New Hanover (3,577) ranked first in our market and Brunswick (2,873) again ranked second.
New Hanover ranked 9th statewide, Brunswick ranked 17th. Wake and Mecklenburg Counties topped the list.
Denton said as winners take home big jackpots and small prizes, the real winners are schools in North Carolina.
“That’s the reason we have a lottery in North Carolina,” he said. “It’s to raise money for a great cause, education. In the most recent info we have from the state about $11 million a year is going to New Hanover County to support education, about $5.4 for Brunswick County and we have some really exciting things happening in Bladen and Columbus County. Bladen County got a $15 million grant to help build a new school and Columbus County got two grants totaling $15 million.”
The lottery posted a record-breaking year in sales during fiscal year 2021. The lottery raised $936 million to support education programs in North Carolina from record lottery ticket sales of $3.8 billion, up 26 percent from the year before.
Denton said the state budget for education in North Carolina is $13 billion; so, he explained the lottery is a small but important part in funding education.
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