RALEIGH, N.C. -- Big lottery jackpots have been making headlines lately and if you're still waiting to hit it big, there is an easy way to increase your odds.
The North Carolina Education Lottery has about 50 different instant scratch off games each year and those games account for 68 percent of all lottery sales, according to ABC7's sister station, WTVD-TV.
"It's the possibility of an instant win. You pay your dollar, you pay your five dollars, ten dollars right there in the store, you scratch it, you could win $500," says Van Denton, director of communications for the state lottery.
Hitting a $500 jackpot would be nice, and $10,000,000 would be even better, but players should not be quick to judge a ticket by its title.
WTVD-TV's I-Team has learned the biggest prizes advertised on those tickets may not actually be available.
That is because tickets can remain on sale after all of the top prizes have been claimed. Denton says there is a process for taking instant games out of circulation after all of the top prizes have been claimed but that could take up to three weeks.
Retailers are allowed to continue selling those tickets until lottery officials collect them.
Finding out which prizes are still available before purchasing a ticket is simple.
The lottery posts information about each game on its website.
That information includes how many prizes are available for each game, how much each prize is worth, and how many of each prize still remains.
Retailers can also look up that information at the store if anyone asks.
"I didn't know I could look to see what the actual prizes are that were still left, so that's very good to know," says Gina Chambers. Like Chambers, most of the lottery players we polled say they had no idea this information was available, but all of them say they plan to check before choosing their next tickets.
Easy way to increase your odds of hitting it big on scratch-off lottery tickets