Wednesday, August 22, 2001

A lotta dreams ride on $200M Powerball




By Patrick Crowley, The Cincinnati Enquirer
and Ray Schaefer, Enquirer Contributor

        NEWPORT — If merchant Bob Crawford doesn't win tonight's $200 million Powerball lottery, he hopes to at least sell the winning ticket.

        “I know I get something for selling it, but honestly I don't know how much,” Mr. Crawford said from behind the counter at Newport Drug Center, the pharmacy he owns at Ninth and York streets.

        “I think I get $10,000 or something.”

[photo] At the Party Source in Bellevue, millionaire hopefuls were standing 12 deep at two checkout lines Tuesday to buy Powerball tickets.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        That “something” has become a jackpot of its own for the lucky store owner who sells the winning ticket — a windfall of at least $243,000, based on 1 percent of all Powerball sales in Kentucky since the last winning drawing nine weeks ago ($24 million).

        “Now that's a heckuva deal,” Mr. Crawford said after learning of the amount Tuesday afternoon. “If I can't win it, I'd sure love to sell it.”

        Powerball frenzy swept across the area Tuesday as the jackpot rose to the third-highest lottery payoff in U.S. history.

        If employees at stores, carryouts and gas stations weren't working through long lines of customers, they were girding for the rush that is expected to come today, particularly with the announcement Tuesday afternoon that the jackpot had bumped up $25 million, to an estimated $200 million.

        If sales exceed expectations, the jackpot could grow even larger by tonight's drawing at 10:57 p.m.

        “It's a little quiet right now,” said Ida Neal, a clerk at the Shell gas station on Covington's Fifth Street. The store gets a lot of customers from Ohio, which doesn't participate in the Powerball lottery.

        “But we'll be swamped by tomorrow night,” Ms. Neal said. “You should have seen Saturday, when they had the last drawing. They were lined up out the door all night.”

        As of lunchtime Tuesday, millionaire hopefuls were standing 12 deep at two checkout lines at the Party Source, a grocery-store-size liquor store near the Ohio River in Bellevue.

        “This is like just before Christmas, which is our busiest time of the year,” said clerk Bobbie Ferguson, 39, of Bellevue. “It just gets crazy. I hate to see what it's going to be like” the day of the drawing.

TOP JACKPOTS
   Here is a list of the top 10 lottery jackpots (and states where winning tickets were sold) in U.S. history:
    1. $363 million, May 9, 2000, The Big Game (Illinois, Michigan)
    2. $295.7 million, July 29, 1998, Powerball (Indiana)
    3. $197 million, April 6, 1999, The Big Game (Massachusetts)
    4. $194.5 million, May 20, 1998, Powerball (Wisconsin)
    5. $151 million, June 30, 1999, Powerball (Minnesota)
    6. $150.2 million, March 4, 2000, Powerball (Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri)
    7. $141 million, June 23, 2001, Super Lotto Plus (California)
    8. $130.6 million, Nov. 29, 2000, Powerball (New Mexico)
    9. $130 million, Nov. 4, 2000, Millennium Millions (New York)
    10. $118.7 million, April 17, 1991, game not listed (California)
    Tonight's Powerball jackpot, at an estimated $200 million, is set to become the third-highest jackpot in U.S. history.
   Source: Multi-State Lottery Association, West Des Moines, Iowa.

        “But I don't blame people,” she said. “I already bought my tickets. I'd love to win so I could quit my job and then buy this place.”

        Long lines are usually a merchant's dream. But Party Source manager Jon Stiles said big lottery and Powerball jackpots “are more trouble than they're worth.”

        “You have to put employees on (registers) selling Powerball tickets instead of doing something else, and the customers are buying Powerball but not much else right now,” Mr. Stiles said.

        “People just get crazy when the jackpots get this high,” Mr. Stiles said. “People come in with cash all wadded up that they've probably been saving forever. We see old coins that people have saved. It's nuts.”

        The largest purchase Tuesday was for $1,300, he said. “It was one guy who said he was buying for everybody at work,” Mr. Stiles said. “We see a lot of that.”

        Rob Mitchell, 38, a mortgage broker who works in Butler County and lives in Highland County, Ohio, drove down from his office to buy $200 worth of tickets for himself and his co-workers.

        “When it gets this high, you just can't ignore it,” Mr. Mitchell said. “We have about 20 people. We played last week, but since nobody won we had to try it again.”

        Industrial tool salesman Dave Chabony lives in Indianapolis but was in Sharonville on business Tuesday. He took his lunch hour to drive 15 miles to the Party Source to buy a Powerball ticket.

        Asked what he would do if his numbers come up tonight, Mr. Chabony didn't hesitate.

        “Quit work. Wouldn't you?”

        Last week, when the Powerball jackpot was approaching $150 million, the Party Source sold $45,000 in tickets — 10 times the normal weekly amount, Mr. Stiles said.

        As of this week, the Party Source was the top seller of Powerball tickets in Campbell County. With that many tickets sold, the Party Source might have a good chance to sell the winner.

       



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