News Column

Powerball Jackpot Hits $500 Million

November 28, 2012

Alyson Buschena

It's said you have a better chance of being hit by lightning, but that doesn't stop Americans from hoping to win the Powerball -- especially when the jackpot is $500 million with an estimated cash payout of $327 million.

While the odds of winning a prize aren't that bad -- 1 in 32 -- the odds of winning the jackpot are a bit more daunting. According to the Powerball website, players have a 1 in 175,223,510 chance. To put that in perspective, with odds of 1 in 153,303,227 you'd have better chance correctly guessing the name of a random U.S. female.

Employees of many local stores said Tuesday that sales of Powerball tickets have increased, and they anticipating even more sales today.

"We've seen a lot more movement of tickets and people have been talking about what they would do with the winnings," Dave Van Hove, manager at Hy-Vee's gas station, said.

"We get a lot of out-of-town business," said Dawn Easterday, store manager at Travel Express, adding that people from other states like to try their luck in Minnesota.

Smitty Ektnitphong, store manager of Cenex, said even he has spent more than he usually does on lottery tickets for this jackpot.

"I like to get in on the excitement," he said.

According to local managers, the majority of people let the computer pick their numbers.

"I'd say about 90 percent just let the computer choose," said Ektnitphong.

Linda Kuhle, floor manager at Sterling Drug, said Powerball has been the talk of the day.

"We've even had people come in who are such infrequent buyers that they don't realize prices have gone up to $2, but they still want have a chance at this one," she added.

Kevin Busch, Fulda, decided Tuesday to try his luck with Powerball.

"I was driving down the road, listening to the radio," he said. "When I heard $500 million I thought I'd buy one, even though I don't usually take a chance on things like that."

Unlike some people, Busch had to think a bit about what he would do with the winnings.

"Oh, man. I guess I'd retire. Maybe buy a home in Mexico," he said.

Another customer exclaimed, "I don't need to spend my money on that. I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning."

Nevertheless, a few moments later, he changed his mind and walked out the door, the small white slip of paper tucked in his back pocket.

Other customers aren't as tempted by the $500 million jackpot.

"I don't need one of those. I have a better chance of getting shot on the way home," said one customer who stood by his resolution not to buy one.

The state of Minnesota receives about 24 cents out of every dollar spent in the state on lottery tickets. That money is put towards the Minnesota environment and the state General Fund to support services like K-12 education, health care, local governments and public safety.

In the fiscal year 2012 (July 1, 2011 -- June 30, 2012), lottery sales generated approximately $123.6 million, according to the Minnesota State Lottery website.

Ektnitphong is encouraging everyone to play and join in the excitement.

"Play what you can," he said, "and enjoying having fun. I'd love to see a local winner."

Ticket sales will end at 9 tonight, and the drawing time will be at 10 p.m.

Source: (c) 2012 The Daily Globe (Worthington, Minn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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