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Alaska’s first PFD raffle will take place Jan. 28

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: January 16
  • Published January 16

The first winners of Alaska’s new Permanent Fund dividend raffle will be chosen Jan. 28 in a drawing at a Juneau elementary school, the Alaska Department of Revenue announced this week.

The top prize will be $17,396, an amount set because Alaskans bought 8,698 entry tickets in the first year of a program intended to provide additional funding for Alaska’s K-12 public schools.

Second prize is $8,698, third is $4,349 and fourth is $2,174.50. These figures are lower than preliminary amounts announced in April.

Anne Weske, director of the Permanent Fund Dividend division, said notices about the raffle will be emailed to everyone who chose last year to put a portion of their 2019 dividend into the raffle. She said winners will be drawn from a rotating drum, “with special precautions taken that will include a chain of custody procedure to include a state trooper, as well as an auditor, all of whom will be in attendance.”

It’s unclear who will pick the winning names: The raffle law says “the commissioner shall conduct a public drawing,” and when asked, Weske said only that it would be conducted by “state officials.” The governor’s office is scheduled to stream the event online.

As part of the Permanent Fund dividend application in 2019 and again this year, Alaskans were asked if they wanted to spend a portion of their dividend on raffle entries costing $100 apiece. The raffle is the brainchild of Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, who proposed legislation in 2017 to create it. The idea became law in 2018 and was implemented last year.

The idea is officially a raffle, rather than a state lottery, because winners are guaranteed every year. A lottery may have no winner.

The state collected $869,800 from the raffle, more than $100,000 less than the figure announced by the state in April. Based on the distribution formula in Bishop’s law, K-12 schools split 50% of the proceeds, or $434,900. Another $217,450 goes to the state’s education endowment fund for further investment and eventual distribution to schools. A prize fund receives $217,450 intended to boost the amount of future payouts, and the remaining money is being awarded this year.