“Just won $500 on a scratch off card from the GA lottery! My heart is racing lol! Such a huge blessing and a very needed one,” said Jacksonville State sophomore Kenneth Smith in a Facebook post this past Monday.
Last week Kenneth got in his car, left his northeast Alabama home, crossed the state line, spent twenty bucks on a ‘Lucky Loot’ scratch-off at a store in Georgia, and made his way back to his home state.
Little did he know that the thirty-minute trip and the “risky” Andrew Jackson he left in the Peach State were about to pay off, big-time.
After the scratching was over, Kenneth realized his twenty-dollar-ticket had transformed into a five-hundred dollar bounty! And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“A ton of crazy stuff happened today back home so it’s already all gone helping my family,” said Smith on Tuesday. “It came in very handy though! I guess God saw the need ahead of time and knew we would need it today.”
As of last year, only five states do not participate in the lottery. And guess who is part of the fab five? You guessed it: The Great State of Alabama.
Out of the four states that border Alabama, only Mississippi does not allow a lottery. And the old song is sung once more: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
Recent estimates show that Alabamians like Kenneth spend upwards of $270 million annually to play the lottery in surrounding states. The Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office recently projected that Alabama could generate $250 million annually to go toward the state’s Education Trust Fund if Alabama allowed a lottery.
In fact, Alabama House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) has filed legislation for the 2014 legislative session that would put the issue to a vote of the people. Ford says he wants to hold Alabama Governor Robert Bentley accountable to comments Bentley made on the issue during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
“I believe the people of Alabama need to decide at the ballot box on a yes or no vote whether to allow gambling or abolish all forms of gambling,” said Bentley in 2010.
However, the state’s legislative leadership does not share the optimism that Ford and his supporters have. They point to Governor Don Siegelman’s 1999 lottery initiative where the issue failed in a public vote 54 to 46 percent.
Lottery supporters counter that this vote was taken nearly fifteen years ago and a lot has changed in the new millennium. Other lottery opponents claim that lottery players waste their money at a shot for an elusive grand-prize.
However, individuals like Kenneth show a different side of the lottery narrative. Had he not played the lottery this week, who knows how the situation back home would have turned out?
One thing’s for sure, until the issue to be put to a new vote in Alabama, Kenneth and hundreds like him will continue to cross the state line where they’ll either make a deposit or a withdrawal to or from the Georgia education system. To paraphrase a quote from a 2004 teen comedy film, “And none for Alabama.”
Oh, and before you go getting any ideas, Kenneth said to remind everyone that he’s not gonna be buying dinner anytime soon!
After all, the winnings have dried up but his family can now rest easier at no thanks to the Great State of Alabama.