Florida Lottery History

Interested in learning the Florida Lottery history?  The Florida Lottery is a government-run organization in the state of Florida, United States. With numerous on-line and scratch-off games available, players have a wide variety of prize levels to choose from. Since it began, the Florida Lottery has continued to add variety to its portfolio of games. The Lottery has experimented with higher price points, enhanced traditional games, and introduced seasonal promotional games. In 2012, Florida was the third-ranked state in yearly lottery revenue with $4.45 billion; revenue passed $5 billion in fiscal year 2013. Florida passed the legislation to enact the lottery in 1986 by a two to one ratio.  The new lottery was spearheaded by Gov. Bob Martinez and the Florida legislature with the mission of maximizing revenues for the enhancement of public education in Florida. The lottery was founded on the basis that it would provide the people of Florida the opportunity to benefit from additional revenues while providing the highest quality games available. The lottery’s first game, MILLIONAIRE was a $1 scratch-off that was immensely popular. Within 17 days, the scratch-off game had paid back the entire $15.5 million to the state’s general fund. Florida currently offers ten terminal-generated games: Cash4Life, Mega Millions, Powerball, Florida Lotto, Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Fantasy 5, and Jackpot Triple Play.

With the goal of the Florida Lottery being to enhance public education in the state, the lottery has become not only an education partner but a distinguished business enterprise as well. In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Florida Lottery donated $1.31 billion to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the eleventh time in its history and expanding its all-time donation total to over $25 billion. Additionally, Florida donates funds to help construct new schools and other educational facilities. As of 2012, more than $3.9 billion in lottery-backed bonds have gone to school construction.

Florida Lottery History

The Florida Lottery began operation on January 12, 1988 by order of a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters by a 2-to-1 margin in the general election of November 4, 1986. The point of the Lottery is to give extra funding to Florida education, and it was mandated that a significant proportion of all revenue generated by ticket sales go to the Education Enhancement Trust Fund. The Bright Futures scholarship program is funded by the Florida Lottery. The minimum age to purchase a Florida Lottery ticket, regardless of game, is 18.

Millionaire(first Florida Lottery game)

The first game offered by Florida Lottery was Millionaire, a $1 scratch-off game with a $1 million annuity prize. Total sales in the first 12 days totaled $95 million. Seventeen days of ticket sales allowed for the Lottery Commission to repay with interest the initial $15.5 million bond from Florida’s General Revenue Fund that got it going.

September 3, 1988

Sheelah Ryan of Winter Springs, won the largest single lottery jackpot in world history to that point, a jackpot of $55.16 million. She was the tenth Florida Lotto winner. However, the Florida Lotto cash option (see below) was still 10 years away. She died before she could receive all of her winnings, which funded a foundation she established to provide for the less fortunate.

The first $100 million Florida jackpot

The first $100 million Florida Lotto jackpot was for the drawing on September 15, 1990. Six tickets split a $106.5 million jackpot(There was no cash option for jackpot winners at the time.). That day, the Florida Lottery set a record with $30 million in revenue from that game alone.

Play 4

In 1991, a daily four-number on-line game, Play 4, was introduced on July 4, with a top prize of $5,000.

Florida Lotto Month

December 1991 saw the advent of “Florida Lotto Month”, where minimum jackpots and rollovers were guaranteed at $10 million for the Christmas season.


On September 27, 1993, the first $2 Scratch-Off game, Bingo, was introduced. Through variants, it is the longest-running Scratch-Off game by the Florida Lottery.

Fantasy 5 expands

On January 24, 1994, Fantasy 5 expanded to Mondays through Fridays.

Winning by mail

On May 22, 1994, the first Florida Lotto mail-in promotion began where losing tickets could be mailed in for a prize. Called the Great LOTTOMOBILE Giveaway, 50 tickets each won their holders a 30th Anniversary 1995 Ford Mustang.

Flamingo Fortune

In October 1995, the Florida Lottery launched Flamingo Fortune, a game show where people who sent in losing Scratch-Off tickets were selected to play for prizes.

Win for Life begins

On February 28, 1996, Barbara Arens of Clearwater was announced as the first winner of the Win for Life $2 scratch-off. She is receiving $1000 per week for life, paid in annual installments of $52,000, with a guarantee of $1 million(There was no cash option available.).

500th Florida Lotto Drawing

The 500th Florida Lotto drawing occurred on November 30, 1996, with a jackpot of US$26 million. It rolled over twice before being won by PAPI-AMOR Partnership of Lake Worth.

10th Anniversary

The Lottery celebrated its 10-year anniversary on January 12, 1998. To that point it had grossed $21 billion in sales and given US$8 billion to Florida education.

Mega Money

On February 25, 1998, Mega Money began, a four-plus-one numbers drawing game played every Tuesday and Friday with jackpots in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Initially rolled out on an 18-week trial run, it was relaunched on a permanent basis on June 1, 1998.

Florida Lottery begins Cash Option

Later in 1998, Florida Lotto began its cash option. The annuity, now optional, was lengthened to 30 annual payments(Unlike with most other U.S. lotteries, a winner desiring the cash option must claim within 60 days of the drawing, instead of the more usual 60-day period after claiming.).

Florida Lotto’s major changes

On October 24, 1999, Florida Lotto underwent major changes. The matrix increased from 6/49 to 6/53, with Wednesday drawings added. Because of the second weekly drawing, its initial jackpot was reduced to $3 million with lower initial rollovers.

Fantasy 5 gets a new look

Fantasy 5’s matrix, on July 16, 2001, increased from 5/26 to 5/36. The top prize was changed to a rolldown format.

Largest Florida Lottery unclaimed ticket

On September 8, 2003, the largest unclaimed ticket in the Lottery’s 15-year history expired after the 180-day deadline with no one claiming the ticket. The Florida Lotto ticket was worth an estimated $53.7 million($30.1 million cash). Note that while Florida Lotto(and Mega Money beginning in 2004) jackpot winners have 180 days to claim their prizes, if they want to be paid in lump sum, they must claim within 60 days of the drawing, unlike most US lotteries, which start the clock when the ticket is claimed.

Mega Money’s changes

On January 28, 2004, Mega Money was revamped. It was changed from a 4/32 + 1/32 matrix to a 4/44 + 1/22 matrix. Also, the jackpot was changed from all-cash to 20 annual payments with cash option.

EZmatch added to Fantasy 5

On March 20, 2006, a new play option called EZmatch was added to Fantasy 5. For an extra $1, players can win up to $500 instantly, by matching their Fantasy 5 numbers to the random EZmatch numbers.

Florida joins Powerball

Florida Governor Jeb Bush declined an offer to join Powerball on February 2, 1999.

Governor Charlie Crist assumed office in 2007. On July 2, 2008, the Florida Lottery announced it would be joining Powerball, making it the 32nd lottery to join the Multi-State Lottery Association(MUSL), which includes the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Powerball game changed to accommodate Florida, which then became the most populous MUSL member. Powerball sales began in Florida on January 4, 2009, for the January 7 drawing, the first to be held at Universal Orlando Resort. Florida became the home base of the Powerball drawing.

Florida Powerball drawings initially were held from Universal Studios in Orlando, but were shifted to the Tallahassee headquarters of the Florida Lottery(Powerball drawings continue on Wednesdays and Saturdays.).

On October 3, 2009, the Florida Lottery announced its first Powerball jackpot winner. The winning ticket was worth $101,160,403.68 cash($189 million annuity) and was the largest prize awarded by the Florida Lottery. Dr. William A. Steele claimed the prize, and elected to take the lump sum.

Lotto Xtra added

On October 11, 2009, the Florida Lottery introduced Lotto Xtra as an add-on for Florida Lotto. Players may elect to add $1 to the cost of their Florida Lotto ticket and multiply non-jackpot prizes by up to 5x.

Lucky Lines Launched

On October 11, 2010, the Florida Lottery introduced Lucky Lines. Lucky Lines is an instant win game where players elect how much to wager on each ticket from $1, $2, $3, or $5. The Lottery computer then produces a 7×7 grid of numbers from 1 to 49 with the player numbers distributed throughout. If the player’s 7 numbers form a straight line that ticket is a grand prize winner and is paid from $400,000 to $3,000,000 depending on the amount of the wager for that ticket. The top prize is always offered as a lump sum. Lesser prizes are offered for lines formed with 3, 4, 5, or 6 numbers as well as tickets where none of the 7 numbers are adjacent to each other. Lines can be diagonal, horizontal, or vertical on the play card.

25th Anniversary

On January 12, 2013, the Florida Lottery celebrated 25 years in operation with a major rebranding campaign including a logo redesign and presence on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Florida joins Mega Millions while Lucky Lines ends

On February 28, 2013, the Florida Lottery announced it will begin selling Mega Millions tickets on May 15, 2013. Florida became the 43rd state to join Mega Millions. The remaining seven states do not have lotteries. Lucky Lines will end by the end of 2013.

Bright Futures controversy

The Bright Futures Scholarship Program was created in 1997 with revenues generated from the Florida Lottery, and was meant to emulate the Hope Scholarship in Georgia. Originally the program disbursed more than 42,000 scholarships totaling about $70 million. Later, the costs for the scholarship ballooned substantially. The Scholarship currently costs the Lottery’s coffers more than $436.1 million, with about 170,000 students taking advantage of the program.

Instant games

Florida Lottery instant games range in price from $1 to $30, with higher priced tickets typically putting out a higher percentage of sales back into prizes. Payouts range from 58% to almost 77% of sales and average 70%

In December 2014, the Florida Lottery made great progress selecting Gtech as the winning tech company for handling their new online lottery business with high hopes for massive revenue with their new scratch offs games online. This new online scratch off business is sure to be competitive throughout the nation and the state is hoping Gtech can deliver.

Draw games

Webcasts of the Lottery’s draw games are available on the Florida Lottery web site. According to the Florida Lottery, $1.28 billion in proceeds went to Florida schools, about 5% of the education budget in 2008–2009. See Your Winning Numbers.

Florida-only draw games

Pick 2
Pick 2, which debuted in Florida on August 1, 2016, is drawn every day during a live broadcast at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time for the midday drawing, and, effective August 5, 2018, 9:45 p.m.(previously 7:57 p.m.) ET for the evening drawing. It’s using a two chambered ball machine, each with balls numbered ranging from 0 through 9, is used. One ball is drawn from each chamber. Anyone who matches the two digits(in any order, or only in order, depending on how the numbers were played; Picks 2, 3, 4, and 5 offer several different options when playing) in exact order wins $50 on a $1 ticket.

Pick 3

Pick 3 is drawn every day during a live broadcast immediately following the Pick 2 drawings. It is played the same way as Pick 2, except a three chambered ball machine is used. Anyone who matches the three digits(in any order, or only in order, depending on how exactly the numbers are played; Picks 2, 3, 4, and 5 offer several different options when playing) in exact order wins $500 on a $1 wager. More recently, more ways to play involving multiple-number tickets were introduced. On August 23, 2010, Florida added a 1-OFF selection to the game. This gives the player 26 extra combinations of his/her number in which the digits are 1 up or 1 down. If the number matched exactly, one would win just $250 instead of $500 for a $1 play and $125 instead of $250 for a 50-cent play. If one of the 1-Off numbers drew, one would win $10 on $1 plays and $5 on 50-cent plays. See the lottery website for further details. This game was formerly named Cash 3 until August 1, 2016.

Pick 4

Pick 4 is drawn every day during a live broadcast immediately following the Pick 3 drawings. This time, a four chambered ball machine is used, and anyone who matches the four digits(in any order, or only in order, depending on how exactly the numbers are played; Picks 2, 3, 4, and 5 offer several different options when playing) in exact order wins $5,000 on a $1 wager. This game was formerly named Play 4 until August 1, 2016.

Pick 5

Pick 5, which debuted in Florida on August 1, 2016, is drawn every day during a live broadcast immediately following the Pick 4 drawings. This time, a five chambered ball machine is used, and anyone who matches the five digits(in any order, or only in order, depending on how exactly the numbers are played; Picks 2, 3, 4, and 5 offer several different options when playing) in exact order wins $50,000 on a $1 wager.


The Fireball is an add-on to the Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 games introduced on January 18, 2021. Activating the Fireball doubles the cost of the play.

After the Pick games are drawn, one digit from 0 through 9 is drawn and designated as the Fireball number. The Fireball number may then be used by the player to replace any one digit in any of the Pick games. For instance, if the player selects 123 in the Pick 3 game, and the number actually drawn is 124, but the Fireball is a 3, the player may replace the 4 with a 3 to create a winning combination.

Because the Fireball creates additional ways to win, a win using the Fireball generally pays a lesser amount than a win using the base play(with the exceptions of the front and back digit plays in Pick 2), however, a player can win both from the Fireball and from the base play if the Fireball matches one of the digits naturally.

Fantasy 5

Fantasy 5 is drawn every day during a live broadcast at 11:15 p.m. ET. A single ball machine is used with balls numbered from 1 through 36(Before July 16, 2001, the matrix was 1 through 26, and before 1993, it was 1 through 39). Five balls are drawn from the machine. Anyone who matches all five numbers in any order wins or shares a top prize pool of around $200,000. Originally, if no one matched all five, the pool rolled down to the 4-out-of-5 winners. The rolldown feature in Fantasy 5 was modified on September 15, 2008. See the Rollover and Rolldown section below for more details. An astonishing 98 people won the August 28, 2012 Fantasy 5, reminiscent of a scene in the movie, Bruce Almighty. The reward for each winning ticket was only $1,992.32.

Jackpot Triple Play

Jackpot Triple Play is drawn each Tuesday and Friday during a live broadcast at 11:15 p.m. ET. Jackpot Triple Play replaced Lucky Money. A single ball machine is used with numbered balls ranging from 1 through 46. For $1 players select 6 numbers, or may opt to have them quick picked. Two additional rows of 6 numbers are automatically quick picked. Each of the 3 rows play separately for regular prizes. For an additional $1, players add a “Combo” option for that selection, then the numbers of all 3 lines qualify for matching the drawn numbers, even if they appear more than once.

Now you know all about the Florida Lottery history!