The guidelines are different from state to state, but in California, Powerball rules require half of ticket sales go to the jackpot winner and 40 percent to public schools.
But, even with the frenzy surrounding Wednesday night's $1.5 billion jackpot, schools still aren't saying this is a big win for them.
In San Jose, some big boxes of textbooks arrived Wednesday at Pioneer High School. The school receives $160 per student each year from the lottery.
That amounts to "maybe two textbooks" per student, according to Pioneer math teacher Patrick Bernhardt, which underscores why schools feel as though they were used back in 1984 to convince voters to pass a lottery in the first place.
"School funding has always been political," said independent education consultant Mary Perry. "If you attach 'schools' to it, you get money for anything else you want to do."
And, in the 31 years since voters approved it, only about 1 percent of school funding comes from lotteries like the Powerball drawing.
"I don't think people are thinking, 'I'll get more for students,'" said Stephen McMahon, San Jose Unified's chief business officer. "They're thinking, 'I'll win a billion dollars.'"
Statewide, schools receive about $200 or less per student each year. The recent frenzy will bump that up by about $20.
"Even though it's a modest amount of money, it's unrestricted," said Russ Lopez, California Lottery Deputy Director of Corporate Communications. "Unlike state and federal money, it's flexible and there are no strings attached."