BILLINGS — Jennifer McKee can't explain what's happening. The communications manager for the Montana Lottery is trying to understand the rush on Montana Millionaire lottery tickets.
More than 108,000 of the 250,000 Montana Millionaire tickets had been sold as of 10 p.m. on Wednesday — just three days after ticket sales began.
"We really did have to reset the X Y access on our sales chart to make it fit on one page. What happened from last year to this year is just so far above what we were expecting,” McKee said.
McKee is talking about a 613% increase in day-one ticket sales, leaving the Montana Lottery team blown away. “We don’t know how to approach this either. Not even our mathematicians know exactly what to do right now."
The Montana Lottery did make some major changes this year. It sold 250,000 tickets in 2021, an increase of 70,000 tickets from the 180,000 sold last year.
But at the same time, it will also draw two $1 million winners, making the odds 1-in-125,000 to bring home a million bucks. The state also eliminated some mid-level cash prizes and ramped up its instant wins, making for more opportunities to win $100 or $500 on the spot.
“You can just cash it right where you are and walk out with the money," said McKee.
McKee said she and her team do not know why sales are so much hotter than in years past, but, "if you thought you could wait a little longer if you were going to make a planned purchase on this ticket, you might not really be able to. It is going faster than we ever in our wildest imaginations thought it would."
She said she and her team are sure of one thing: "There's not going to be very many Thanksgiving leftovers in the Montana Millionaire game. It's probably going to go before Thanksgiving."