For almost half a century people have been buying New Jersey Lottery tickets in hopes of striking it big with that life-changing jackpot.

The very first lottery ticket was sold on this date in 1970, marking 48 years of people trying their luck in one of the various games, according to the organization's website. The ticket was sold after the state Senate approved of the lottery in April of that year. Ralph Batch was approved as the first executive director.

The following year, Edward and Kathleen Henry of West Caldwell became the first winners of the millionaire drawing. The couple received a $50,000 annuity, the lottery website said. The first instant lottery game was introduced in June of 1975. It was called "7-11-21," and featured cash prizes of up to $10,000.

It took until 1983 for the New Jersey Lottery to have its 100th Millionaire, according to the Lottery website. In June of 1986 Pick-6 passed the $1 billion in cumulative total sales, and the next year the lottery sold $1 billion worth of tickets in that year alone. It took until 2002 for the lottery to surpass $2 billion worth of lottery sales in a year.

In 1991 the New Jersey Lottery set up a hotline for people with compulsive gambling problems. That hotline now receives close to 15,000 calls on a yearly basis from people needing help.

Since its inception the lottery has had several memorable winners. Just last year a retired security guard saw a story about an expiring lottery ticket, and found the winning ticket in a shirt pocket. The winning ticket ended up being worth $24 million. The Smith family of Trenton hit it big as well, claiming $284 million thanks to numbers they say came to a relative in a dream. Back in 2013 a group of 16 Ocean County residents who worked for the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Center split more than $68 million.

The state has seen many other winners win jackpots of all sizes, and every day more people buy tickets in hoping that the next one they buy will be their lucky one.

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