Dreamers Scurry to Buy Chance at Record Jackpot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Despite floods, long lines and ads warning players not to get carried away, the ticket-buying frenzy churned on in 14 states as tonight’s Powerball lottery jackpot reached $100 million.
″It’s the most interest I’ve seen,″ said Sonny Cox, owner and manager of Tom’s Supermarket in Chesapeake, W.Va. ″Everybody’s looking for the rainbow - for the pot of gold.″
In Delaware, retailers churned out more than 1,400 tickets a minute in one hour Tuesday, setting a state record for sales per minute.
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, Iowa.
This despite odds of some 55 million-to-1 to win the grand prize of $5 million a year for 20 years.
The rush of strike-it-rich dreamers had lottery officials in some states worried. Iowa, Idaho, Indiana and Minnesota took out TV and newspaper ads cautioning players to stay within their budgets.
″It’s fun to dream about winning $100 million, but not at the expense of using money that should be for life’s more important necessities,″ the Indiana Hoosier Lottery said in its ads.
But 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.
Powerball - one of the few lotteries to cross state lines - is played in Iowa, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. Together, the smallish states can muster jackpots to rival those of California or Florida.
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. The drawing is set for 10:59 p.m. EDT.
If no one picks the winning numbers tonight, the pot could grow to $120 million by Saturday’s drawing.
That would top the nation’s record jackpot: California’s $118.8 million, split 10 ways in April 1991. Pennsylvania and Florida lotteries also have reached $100 million. The old Powerball record was $59 million, which two players shared in March.