Ads Warn $100 Million ‘Powerball’ Players to Gamble Wisely
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ TV and newspaper ads warned lottery players not to risk their life savings as hordes of strike-it-rich dreamers in 14 states lined up for a 1-in-55 million shot at a $100 million jackpot.
Steve Gates, 35, a Des Moines insurance salesman who bought five $1 tickets Tuesday, said he doubted the warning ads would have much impact. ″If people are going to play, they’re going to play no matter what,″ he said.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia play Powerball, the fourth lottery nationwide to reach $100 million. Joining local players were many who crossed state lines for a chance.
″I really don’t know what it would be like to win. It’s just fun being in it,″ said J.C. Hansen, a trucker from Utah who drove to Idaho to buy tickets.
Ads urging people to ″please play responsibly and within your budget″ started running in Iowa when the jackpot for Saturday reached $78 million. There was no weekend winner, and the next drawing is Wednesday.
Lottery officials in Idaho, Indiana and Minnesota also ran cautionary ads.
Officials said they wanted to keep people caught up in the ticket-buying frenzy from going too far.
″We aren’t exactly sure what to expect when it gets up this high,″ said Chuck Strutt, director of the Multi-State Lottery Association in Des Moines, which manages Powerball.
″As part of state government, it’s our duty to maximize sales, but the law also says, ’maintain the dignity of the state,‴ said Iowa Lottery spokesman Bret Vorhees. ″We want people to know the lottery is a game and it’s supposed to be fun.″
Players pick five ″white ball″ numbers between 1 and 45, then a single red ″powerball″ number, which is drawn from a separate container of balls also numbered 1 through 45.
Odds of winning are 1 in 54.9 million, the number of possible combinations.
The nation’s record jackpot was California’s $118.8 million, which was split 10 ways in April 1991. Pennsylvania and Florida lotteries also reached $100 million. The old Powerball record was $59 million, which two players shared in March.
Along the flooded Mississippi River, some players hoped for a big win to offset losses caused by high water.
″They say ’I’m flooded and it would help me if I could win,‴ said Terry Eickhoff, a cashier at Eagle Food Center in Davenport in eastern Iowa.
Elsewhere, the huge jackpot attracted some who rarely gamble.
″Everybody’s talking about it,″ said Debra Allen, an assistant manager at the Five Star Food Mart in Louisville, Ky. ″I know a lot of people are playing that don’t usually play. I’m one of them.″
Powerball is played in Iowa, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virigina, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
″A lot of people are forming groups and buying $100 worth of tickets at a time,″ said Jim Jerston, associate manager of a Woolworth’s in downtown Milwaukee. ″You can still win a lot of money, even if it is divided up 20 or 30 ways.″