Billion-dollar blastoff - Lottery to award top scratch-ticket winner $1 million a year for life

Lane Lambert

Like many of their players, the Lottery is picking a favorite number - this time for the nation’s first billion-dollar game.

On Sept. 25 the state will launch the Billion-Dollar Blockbuster as a $20 instant scratch ticket, with a top prize of $1 million a year for life and a better than 1 in 3 chance of winning at least a token amount.

‘‘Our players have been asking for a bigger ticket with more prizes, and we think this answers their call and then some,’’ Lottery executive director Mark Cavanaugh said.

The Blockbuster ticket is being introduced just four months after the Lottery unveiled the first $20 scratch ticket in its 35-year history, the Star Spangled Sweepstakes.

The $40 million, patriotic-themed game began in May and ended with a drawing on July 4.

The Lottery will distribute 65 million Blockbuster tickets, for $1.3 billion in player purchases.

In addition to the top prize, the Blockbuster ticket will feature 140 other prizes of $1 million to $10 million, 40,000 awards of $1,000 to $25,000 and 6 million winning tickets of $40 to $500.

The game will pay a minimum of $20 million to the winner of the million-for-life ticket or their estate.

Cavanaugh said Blockbuster is expected to generate $154 million for Massachusetts cities and towns, which use Lottery money to support everything from schools and community arts programs to police and fire departments.

Since 2003, the Lottery has returned $4 billion to the state’s 351 communities.

Lane Lambert of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at llambert@ledger.com.