Oct 19, 2005, 11:30 pm
North Dakotans are among the thousands of people in 27 states who have been snatching up Powerball tickets. But what would they do if they won the record jackpot?
Bryce McGillis, 28, a technical school student and worker at Phoenix International in Fargo, said he probably wouldn't handle all those millions very well.
"Probably not, to be honest," he said. "I'm bad with money."
Roger McNeil, 51, of Fargo, said he and his wife, Bernadette, would buy land and build a square-dancing ballroom.
"I'm sure there'd be some (troubles), but I think with that much I'd be able to handle it," he said.
Wednesday's Powerball jackpot climbed to an estimated $340 million after 20 straight drawings in which no one won the grand prize. It is the second-biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
North Dakota and 26 other states offer Powerball, along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Chuck Keller, North Dakota's lottery director, said the state had $311,000 in lottery sales in one day, surpassing the previous daily record of $215,000.
"Retailers, from feedback that we've been receiving, are calling in extra employees to help with the ticket sales," Keller said. "They are opening additional lanes for the regular customers."
Edward Jarvis, a 39-year-old real estate agent, drove from New York's Long Island to Greenwich, Conn., to buy $120 worth of tickets.
"That's worth an hour or two out of your day," he said. "It's cheaper than going to Atlantic City for a heck of a lot better return if you win."
The odds of hitting all six numbers are 1 in 146 million.
The biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history is $363 million, won by two ticketholders in Illinois and Michigan in 2000.
Trey Hausmann, a sophomore at the University of North Dakota, said that if he won the jackpot, he'd finish school to get his degree in exercise science and then maybe build his own gym.
"I don't even know how you'd spend all that money," he said.
In Grand Forks, one store saw lottery sales of $60 from just one person Tuesday as people came in to try their luck, often gathering money from several people who agreed to split the jackpot.
"We have people coming in who have never bought a ticket in their life," said Diane Olson, who works in the Hugo's store. "They heard it on TV and decided to go out and get a ticket."
State lottery officials report getting calls from Canadians asking if they can participate. The answer is yes.
"As long as you've purchased a ticket, you can win," said Eileen Walsh, a spokeswoman for the state lottery office.
When one Winnipeg resident found that out, he said he would bring a carload of people down to try their luck, Walsh said.
Steve Curfman, 51, who works at Weisgram Metal Fab, reasoned he couldn't go wrong with his plan if he won the lottery.
"I'd know exactly what to do," he said. "Invest and keep working."
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