Powerball jackpot: Another chance at the (your) golden ticket
Wednesday night could end up being quite a payday for a lottery ticket holder, as frenzied sales are expected to push the Powerball jackpot to $350 million, the third largest ever.
New Hampshire officials say Powerball sales could triple their normal levels this week. Sales surges can be expected around lunchtime Wednesday and progress into the evening as customers with oceanside mansions in mind hit stores on their way home from work.
Hefty jackpots entice regular lottery players at N-N Express Convenience to buy a ticket every day they come into the store, said Mohammad Nawaz, owner of the center-city market. Customers who normally don't buy a ticket are doing to, too, he said.
"I've seen people spend hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets here," he said.
He expects to sell $500 worth of tickets before Wednesday.
Only two Powerall jackpots have exceeded the estimate for Wednesday's $350 million drawing. Last year, a jackpot reached $587 million, and in 2006 one was $365 million. Both winnings were shared. The largest prize was divided between Arizona and Missouri residents who drew the same set of numbers; the second-highest was divided among workers at a Nebraska food-processing plant.
Lottery officials estimate that the one-time payout will be $222.8 million. Most winners opt for the one-time payout, rather than the annuity, which distributes the jackpot over 30 years, said Maura McCann, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Lottery.
McCann said Powerball sales are up 35 percent this budget year, compared to the same time last year. She said large jackpots are one of the biggest factors that push lottery ticket sales. The economy seems to have little effect on lottery sales, except for gas prices. When gas prices rise, ticket sales fall, she said.
Last Saturday's jackpot was estimated around $250 million, enough to push New Hampshire Powerball sales to $1.4 million, compared to $500,000 for a normal week. McCann said the sales for this week will exceed last week's sales if the jackpot isn't hit Wednesday.
Nawaz said his store is lucky. Last year, it distributed $113,000 in lottery prizes, and his former market, N&N Express at the corner of Hanover and Hall streets, sold a $66 million lottery ticket in 1997.
Normally, middle-aged and older people buy lottery tickets, he said. On Monday morning, he sold more scratch tickets than machine-generated tickets. Scratch tickets amount to about 70 percent of lottery sales.
"The chances are better," said Richard Ferbert, who bought a scratch ticket from Nawaz Monday morning. But when learning the size of the Powerball ticket, he purchased a single ticket.
"I'd take care of my daughter. She'd be set for life," said Febert, who paints houses for a living and lives in Lowell, Mass. He said he's also get himself a boat and a house on Lake Winnipesaukee.
McCann said scratch sales don't suffer when jackpots grow. Rather, people just buy more scratch tickets when the jackpots grow.
"We see it as a rising tide; it lifts all our products," she said.