By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday named John Davis, the executive vice president of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, to fill the long-vacant position of secretary of the Florida Lottery.
Davis, a standout safety in the early 1990s when the Florida State Seminoles were annually in the hunt for the national football championship, has also served as president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and once held a leadership role at the Republican Party of Florida.
DeSantis pointed to Davis’ public, private and educational experience in making the appointment, which requires Senate confirmation.
“His business focus and passion for student success will serve him well as he takes over this important department,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.
The secretary position has been vacant since January, when Randall Hunt resigned abruptly after less than two months in the job that paid $142,000 a year. The Orlando Sentinel reported a background check turned up an allegation of domestic violence.
Davis will take over an agency that has more than 400 employees and produces more than $6 billion in sales a year.
Because of the coronavirus, the agency recently reopened to the public but only through appointments.
The agency has also recently raised the price of Florida Lotto tickets from $1 to $2 as part of a rebranding that includes increased non-jackpot cash prizes.
In a news release from the governor’s office, Davis focused on the lottery’s ties to funding public education through ticket sales.
“The Florida Lottery’s mission to maximize support for public education is closely aligned with my work over the years in the greater Orlando community to support our youth and students and help them achieve their dreams,” Davis said. “I look forward to furthering this mission at the Lottery and working with elected officials and our business partners to meet our education and sales goals.”
Davis has been with the Orlando chamber since January 2018.
Davis worked for the state Republican Party after being part of now-Congressman Charlie Crist’s successful 2006 gubernatorial run. Crist at the time was a Republican but is now a Democrat.
Davis later was external affairs director for the state Department of Children and Families.
In the news release Monday, the governor’s office said Davis has been involved in volunteering with the United Way, Valencia College, Volunteer Florida and the Kappa Alpha Psi Achievement Foundation.
Davis grew up in Pahokee and earned a political science degree from FSU. He drew national attention in 1990 when he intercepted a pass near the end zone with three minutes left as the Seminoles defeated Penn State 24-17 in the Blockbuster Bowl.