Georgia Lottery celebrates 20 years

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ATLANTA - Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of the Georgia Lottery. And with the celebration also came a celebration over the HOPE Scholarship, which the lottery funds.

During a celebration ceremony Wednesday, a medical student talked to Channel 2's Dave Huddleston about how the HOPE Scholarship helped him get an education as well as his obligation to help others.

Deep Shah, 27, is a child of immigrants. He received a HOPE Scholarship to attend the University of Georgia.

He went to medical school in Boston, but it was his relationships at UGA that he said brought him home.

"When you're a student here knowing you're benefiting from what really is truly an effort of the entire state, to educate you, it makes you want to give back," Shah said.

Former governor and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller gave Shah and others more than $2.8 million in HOPE funds for pre-K students. The money has given these students the chance to give back.

Miller led the charge to bring the lottery to Georgia along with the HOPE Scholarship.

"I had the HOPE Scholarship as my dream all those years and to bring it to this kind of fruition means a lot," Miller said.

And the lottery has given a lot to Georgia education, more than $14.3 billion.

Lottery officials thanked Miller for gambling on bringing the lottery to Georgia. The president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery, Debbie Alford, said it will continue to give to students for years to come.

"I'm going to make this promise to you, that this organization to HOPE and pre-K to raising the revenues to support these programs is as strong today as it's ever been," Alford said.

In celebration of the anniversary, current Gov. Nathan Deal proclaimed Wednesday Zell Miller Day. Miller thanked Deal for keeping HOPE alive.

Another added benefit for the HOPE Scholarship program is it keeps the best and brightest students in the state of Georgia.