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Powerball lottery states report brisk sales for huge jackpot

Oct 15, 2005, 4:55 pm

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Powerball

Hopeful lottery players are plunking down their money for Powerball lottery tickets at an astounding pace, in advance of tonight's estimated $300 million jackpot drawing.

USA Mega will display the drawing results minutes after the drawing, which occurs at 11:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Pacific Time).

Also on www.usamega.com, players will be able to see the Power Play number drawn, and within an hour or two the website will announce whether or not there was a jackpot winner.  At that time, the Wednesday drawing will be announced.

Players can examine Powerball's unique annuity payout structure by visiting USA Mega's Powerball Jackpot Analysis page.

Reports of brisk Powerball tickets sales from around the country:

Oregon

Ticket sales were brisk for Saturday's $300 million Powerball drawing with about 300 tickets being purchased every minute in Oregon, while lottery officials said some other states were reporting nearly 1,000 wagers being made every minute.

Heather Burns prints out PowerBall tickets for customers at the Seltice Way Stop-N-Go in Stateline, Idaho.

Saturday's jackpot is the second largest in the history of the Powerball game -- which includes Oregon and Idaho among the 27 states where it is played, along with the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Ticket buyers have until 5:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday to purchase Powerball tickets. The drawing is held at 7:59 p.m. PT.

If someone wins the $300 million jackpot, the one-time cash payment option would be $146 million, before taxes. The before taxes amount for the annual payments would be $10 million a year for 30 years.

If no one wins, the jackpot next Wednesday could top the all-time high of $315 million won in 2002 by a West Virginia man, said Joe Hrdlicka, a Powerball spokesman at the multi-state lottery's headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.

He said that while it would be anticipated the jackpot could reach an all-time high if no one wins Saturday, it won't be known for sure until sales figures from Saturday's drawing and other projections are compiled.

"We can't guarantee that until we know what sales are," Hrdlicka said.

Saturday's $300 million purse is only the tenth time the Powerball jackpot has topped $200 million.

Ticket buyers average about three dollars per purchase when jackpots near record levels, he said.

But he warned that people shouldn't play outside their means.

"Know your limit and play within it," Hrdlicka said. "Powerball is a game."

Oregon has had two Powerball jackpot winners since the game began in 1992. The Givens family of Eugene won a $38.4 million jackpot in 1992 and Robin Powell of Beaverton claimed a $33.8 million jackpot in 1999.

North Dakota

An estimated $300 million lottery jackpot is likely to translate into rising Powerball ticket sales, the North Dakota lottery director said.

The North Dakota Lottery reported a record $637,133 in Powerball sales in the week before Wednesday's draw for a $240 million grand prize, including $215,283 worth of tickets on Wednesday alone. The Powerball game has drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

A player must match six numbers to win the jackpot, and the odds of doing so are one in 146.1 million. No one hit the numbers on Wednesday, which boosted the estimated top Powerball prize for Saturday's drawing to $300 million.

In August, changes were made in the multistate game to increase the odds of winning the big prize, and to provide for larger and faster-growing jackpots.

Chuck Keller, the state lottery director, said the expected $300 million jackpot will be the largest North Dakotans have played for since the game became legal in the state in March 2004.

Colorado

Sylvia Johnson likes being a waitress, but she'd rather be golfing.

If she wins the lottery tonight, she'll only accept tips on improving her swing.

Johnson, 53, of Fountain, isn't the only one dreaming big. Sales are brisk for tonight's $300 million Powerball jackpot, the highest in nearly three years, with another day of ticket sales to go.

An investment of a dollar buys a 1-in-146,107,962 chance at the cash-option payout of about $146 million.

"It's too much money for one person," Johnson said.

Maybe so, but she'd take it. She bought $10 in Powerball tickets for herself and added $5 more to a pool with 70 of her co-workers at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

The pot has been growing since the last winner in August.

Colorado, which joined in 2001, is one of 27 states selling tickets for the lottery that has seen pots increase since the game started on a smaller scale as Lotto America in 1988.

The largest pot was $315 million on Christmas Day 2002.

Colorado netted $103.7 million last year in lottery profits, said state lottery spokesman Tom Cargal. The money is used for parks, open space and wildlife preservation.

During Powerball drawings, held Wednesdays and Saturdays, five numbered balls are drawn out of a drum of 55, then one Powerball is picked from another drum of 42.

Frequent jackpots over $100 million can result in slower sales or "jackpot fatigue," Cargal said. "People get used to seeing large jackpots."

But when the jackpot jumps to $300 million, the state's 2,800 lottery retailers brace for a rush.

Cargal said the state's top Powerball ticket seller is near the border of Wyoming, which isn't a Powerball state.

A leading outlet in Colorado Springs is the Safeway at 6520 S. Academy Blvd., and a Shell station in the same plaza shares the lottery traffic from nearby Fort Carson.

"A lot of soldiers pool together," Shell cashier Charity Pacheco said.

Others are civilian wannabe multimillionaires.

"It's chaotic, very chaotic," Pacheco said.

The ticket deadline of 7:30 p.m. on drawing night is automatically enforced.

"The machine cuts them off," she said.

The Powerball jackpot didn't entice Colorado Springs resident Michael Geistwhite. He picked up a few tickets for the Colorado Lotto worth a comparatively measly $2.1 million.

"If you can't be happy with a couple million," he said, "there's something wrong with you."

JUST THINK . . .

What you could do with the $146 million pre-tax lump-sum Powerball jackpot:

  • Buy baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, $142 million (Forbes magazine valuation)
  • Make the Denver Broncos' payroll for the past two seasons (2003, $64,826,919; 2004, 72,564,908; total, $137,391,827)
  • Build the proposed downtown convention center, $129.6 million
  • Get 1,044 new Hummer H1s ($139,771 each), or buy one and fill it with gas 988,715 times (52.5 gallons at $2.81)
  • Buy hundreds of Dairy Queen franchises ($250,000-500,000), or 44,514,106 medium Blizzards ($3.19 apiece)

Idaho

More than $1.5 million in Idaho lottery tickets have been sold this week and lottery commission officials expect the total to climb higher in anticipation of Saturday night's $300 million Powerball jackpot drawing.

"Our sales this week have been very high and that trend could continue if we head toward record-setting jackpots," spokeswoman Jennifer Gelband said.

If someone wins Saturday's jackpot, it would be the fourth-largest prize for the multistate lottery. The prize can be awarded in annual installments over 20 years, totaling $300 million, or a cash payout of an estimated $146 million.

Brad Duke of the Boise suburb of Star won the last $100 million-plus Powerball jackpot when he had the winning ticket Memorial Day weekend for a $220.3 million prize. Duke's winnings yielded a $10 million windfall in tax revenue for the state.

"We'd love to see an Idahoan win," Gelband said. "But this is also for fun and the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 146 million, so we do want people to play responsibly."

No one has won the Powerball jackpot since the Aug. 13 drawing.

Pennsylvania

As the Powerball lottery jackpot continues to build, lottery sales are increasing faster than you can say "power up."

Players, both seasoned and rookies, anxious for a chance to win the $300 million prize have been scurrying to lottery outlets in the area for the past several weeks.

"We've got people that don't even know what they are doing, they have no clue. But, they want to play," said Terrie Kearns, an employee at Baker's on East Second Street in Oil City.

As if the multi-million dollar jackpot was not enticing enough to lure would-be players, lottery officials have released a program that gives away free tickets with a "block" purchase, five tickets with the added "power up" feature during the month of October.

One area outlet with a larger than average share of winners is the Wyattville Country Store, where hopeful winners come to try their luck.

"That helps out (having winners). People come in and say 'I hear you are selling winning tickets.' Ever since we had a lot of winners in the Cash 5 game-Oct. 2003-sales have been up," said employee Bobbie Fulmer, adding that business has been booming for the past several weeks.

As the jackpot grows, many area businesses are "pooling" together employee funds to increase each person's odds of winning.

"We get a lot of companies' employees putting their money together. There's one place that gets $300 plus. That takes up the machine for a while. So, we added an extra machine a few weeks ago," said Kearns.

"Out of 10 people, six of them are probably pooling for groups, that's quite a lump of tickets. They are doing it quite frequently with this big jackpot. There's a few that are hitting small ones, $100 and $300. One place hit $300 and turned it around and invested it all again," said Ken Zuck, employee at Spanky's on Liberty Street in Franklin.

Lucky winners in the Powerball game have the option of choosing a lump sum payment or an annuity prize paid out in 30 payments over 29 years, quite an incentive for standing in line to purchase a ticket.

"Business has picked up tremendously, two weeks ago it started. Today, it has been non-stop people buying lottery. It's not big lines like before, because we have a lot more retailers around, but just today I had 10 people standing in line," said Zuck.

"I pity the person who has to work tomorrow (Saturday), it's gonna be crazy," he added.

Tennessee

Tennessee Lottery spokeswoman Kym Gerlock said state sales are expected to be four to five times greater than for a smaller jackpot. Exact ticket sales in the state were not available.

One ticket in Tennessee matched the first five numbers, garnering a $200,000 award.
The highest Powerball jackpot in the history of the game was $314.9 million, which was won in December of 2002.

This Saturday's jackpot is the biggest since Tennessee joined the game in April 2004. Tennessee residents have twice had the opportunity to play for $215 million jackpots, but ticket sales have been declining.

The highest sales for the state was on May 8, 2004, for a $212 million jackpot with more than $7.6 million in ticket sales.

Iowa

In Iowa, headquarters for Powerball, ticket sales were brisk, with nearly 1,000 wagers being made in Iowa every minute, state lottery officials said Friday.

Saturday's jackpot is the second-largest in Powerball history and if no one wins, the jackpot next Wednesday could top the all-time high of $315 million won in 2002 by a West Virginia man, said Joe Hrdlicka, spokesman for the Iowa Lottery.

It's only the tenth time the Powerball jackpot has topped $200 million.

Hrdlicka said sales for Powerball in Iowa topped $800,000 for last Wednesday's drawing.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we double that for Saturday's drawing," he said.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, Powerball sales in Iowa totaled $726,000, Hrdlicka said.

"Generally, 60 to 65 percent of your sales will come on the day of the drawing," he said.

He said that while it would be anticipated the jackpot could reach an all-time high if no one wins Saturday, it won't be known for sure until figures from Saturday's drawing and other projections are compiled.

"We can't guarantee that until we know what sales are," Hrdlicka said.

Iowans average about three dollars per purchase when jackpots near record levels, he said.

He warned that people shouldn't play outside their means.

"Know your limit and play within it," Hrdlicka said. "Powerball is a game."

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