The winning ticket for Saturday's Powerball lottery drawing will be in excess of $1.5 billion after the Wednesday drawing for a prize estimated to be worth $1.2 billion yielded no winner. If Alabamians wish to play, they will have to travel to neighboring states, given that Alabama has yet to accept the lottery.
Former Gov. Don Siegelman, the last Democrat governor of Alabama, blames greed for the state's lack of a lottery.
Despite making it through the legislature and onto an October 1999 special election ballot, the vote failed by a 54-46% margin.
Campaign contributions from then-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy tied to his 1999 lottery push would later become part of a federal case against him that led to Siegelman’s conviction and imprisonment. Still, Siegelman, more than two decades later, remains frustrated about the outcome.
Even though multiple lottery bills have been offered throughout the years in the Alabama Legislature since 1999, the legislature has failed to reach the three-fifths super-majority vote required for a constitutional amendment that would allow for a lottery.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," the former governor once again expressed his disappointment.
"I hate to say I told you so, but I did," Siegelman said. "You know, in 1999, I was campaigning all over the state urging people to vote for the education lottery that I had proposed, which would have allowed people to buy Powerball tickets at their local grocery store or convenience store. And, you know, we've given away billions to Georgia and Florida so their kids could get educated, so their kids could get better jobs, so their kids could provide a better life for their families. You know, we look like total buffoons by not having an education lottery.
"But it's not all Alabama citizens' fault. It's the fault of the greedy special interests — dog track owners, the Poarch Creek Indians, the Choctaw Indians fall into that category because they were the ones who blocked the lottery in 1999. Their greed for money led to our children being deprived of the hope and the belief that if they worked hard and stayed in school, they could make something of themselves, that they could get a college scholarship for free, they could get job training, they could get a job at Boeing or Mercedes and provide for their families.
"Let me just close by saying: I told you so, Alabama," Siegelman added.
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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