News Column

Record Powerball Jackpot Spurs Brisk Lottery Sales

Nov. 27, 2012

Marc Valero, Highlands Today, Sebring, Fla.

It doesn't cost a thing to dream, but you can dream a whole lot bigger with a $2 Powerball ticket that gives you a slim chance to win a record jackpot, estimated at $425 million in Wednesday's drawing.

No one had all the winning numbers in Saturday's drawing in the multistate lottery when the jackpot was an estimated $325 million.

With about 26.6 million in sales, last week was the second highest sales week for Powerball tickets in Florida, said Florida Lottery spokeswoman Shelly Gerteisen.

Powerball ticket sales were the highest ever for a Sunday in the Sunshine State, with about $2.2 million, after Saturday night's rollover, she said.

"So, obviously, we've got a lot of excited people buying tickets," Gerteisen said. "If sales continue at the rate they are going, we will probably see another bump in the jackpot before the drawing on Wednesday."

Brenda Williams, manager of the Gate convenience store on U.S. 27 in Sebring, said it was crazy Saturday with a rush of people buying Powerball tickets.

Many people wait to buy tickets on the day of the drawing, she said.

Lottery ticket sales were slower Monday morning at Gate, as James Now, of Sebring and Ohio, bought a Powerball ticket.

"I play it down here when it's that much money, a guy would be crazy not to," he said.

If he won, he would set up a scholarship fund for needy children, Now said. "I would probably travel a little bit; I would go to Europe. I have been to Germany, Switzerland and Austria; I would like to go up to Holland in the northern part."

Denny Wood of Avon Park purchased five quick pick Powerball tickets at Gate, quipping that they are all winners now, but will all be losers come Wednesday.

What would he do if he won the jackpot?

"Probably die of a coronary," Wood said with a laugh. "Then my wife would have it all."

Wood is not exactly worrying about what he would do with the money because his odds of winning aren't very good, he said. The odds are about one in 175 million, according to the multi-state lottery.

Commenting on Facebook, Gail Moore of Sebring said, if she won, she would take care of her family and herself, "invest enough to maintain and live to 140 years" and travel the world with her husband.

Moore would also like to start up a self-maintained homeless community/food bank in Highlands County.

Saturday's Powerball numbers were 22-32-37-44-50 with the Powerball number 34. One ticket sold in Florida (Miami), and one ticket in each of seven other states matched all five numbers, but not the Powerball number to win one million dollars.

The estimated cash value of the $425 million Powerball jackpot is $278.3 million.

The biggest Powerball jackpot of $365 million in 2006 was claimed by eight employees of a Nebraska meat-packing plant.

The nation's biggest lottery prize was $656 million from a March Mega Millions drawing that was shared by three winning tickets in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

The price of a Powerball ticket increased in mid January from $1 to $2, which upped the initial jackpot from $20 million to $40 million.

Since this series of 15 rollovers began on Oct. 6, about $45 million has been raised in Florida for education, Gerteisen noted.

Powerball operates in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Source: (c)2012 the Highlands Today (Sebring, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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