Monday numbers: What’s immune to the economic pain of COVID-19? The NC lottery.

Monday numbers: What’s immune to the economic pain of COVID-19? The NC lottery.

- in COVID-19, Education, News, Top Story

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked the finances of millions of Americans: Record unemployment, the widespread closure of major companies and small businesses, and for those who have been hospitalized with the virus, medical bills.

But of all the ways the virus has upended our lives, the state lottery has remained unscathed.

Even though sales dipped temporarily after Gov. Roy Cooper announced the stay-at-home order on March 27, lottery sales are still up 9.3% over this time last year. By the week ending May 23, when $76.2 million in tickets were sold, sales had rebounded statewide to above pre-pandemic levels, according to sales data provided by the NC Education Lottery.

The state lottery commission tracks sales by the ticket seller’s ZIP code — not the ZIP code of the ticket buyer. A gas station along a major interstate, for example, could sell a lot of lottery tickets to travelers from outside that ZIP code. Meanwhile, stores off the beaten path might sell fewer tickets.

Here’s a look at how the lottery has fared so far this year, compared with 2019:


Net lottery sales, 2019*— $2.87 billion

In 2020* year-to-date, for the week ending July 11 — $1.75 billion

Net lottery sales over the same period, 2019 — $1.6 billion

Year-to-date increase — $150 million

Biggest sales week in 2020 — May 23, $76.2 million

In 2019 —March 30, $70.4 million

*State operates on a Fiscal Year (July to June); figures are for calendar year (January to December)
Numbers have been rounded

By ZIP code:

Click here for an interactive Tableau map that shows top 10 sales by zip codes.

City and ZIP code with highest sales, 2019 and 2020:

Greenville, 27834

Sales within that ZIP code, 2019 and 2020: $31.1 million and $19.1 million

City and ZIP code with the lowest sales, YTD 2020:

Arapahoe, 28510

Sales within that ZIP code — $3,996

In 2019 — the unincorporated community of Atlantic, 28511

Sales within that ZIP code: — $1,851

Odds of winning the jackpot in this week’s North Carolina Powerball — 1 in 292.2 million

Value of the jackpot— $106 million

Click here to view the map below in Tableau displaying the top 10 sales by zip codes.