Celebrating 75: The beginnings of the Georgia Lottery and how it’s funding education today

ATLANTA — As we celebrate WSB-TV’s 75th anniversary this year, there’s another major anniversary: 30 years of the Georgia Lottery.

You watch those drawings live on Channel 2 each and every day. Channel 2 was there 30 years ago on June 29, 1993 when then-Governor Zell Miller bought the first tickets for Georgia Lottery.

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“Are you saying you can’t basically lose when you buy a lottery ticket?” reporter asked.

“I say that the children of Georgia win because they’re going to have educational programs like we’ve never had before and the only way to have had those educational programs was to raise taxes,” Miller said in 1993.

There was so much excitement and more than 1.3 million in tickets sold that first day. For decades, there were big wins for some players and for education.


Georgia voters approved the lottery in a statewide referendum in 1992 with proceeds going to fund the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K program. During a gubernatorial debate here on Channel 2, Miller talked about his pre-K plan.

“I want to have a voluntary pre-kindergarten program where if parents want to send their children, they can,” Miller said.

To date, the Georgia Lottery has transferred more than $26.5 billion to education.

More than 2.1 million students have been able to attend colleges through Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program. More than 1.7 million four-year-olds have attended Georgia’s Pre-K program.

While students are winning, so are the players.

“It really feels great to be a Georgia Lottery winner. We’re able to be financially stable.”

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