Friday, August 24, 2001

Hopefuls looking for lady luck

80 million-to-1 odds of winning $300 mil

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — B.J. Gallenstein couldn't sell Powerball tickets fast enough Thursday at his family's Liquor Kwik store on Fifth Street.

        The possibility of winning a jackpot that could reach $300 million by Saturday had a lunchtime crowd gobbling up tickets, lining up out the door and crowding the parking lot at a store that usually does most of its business at night.

        “We have people buying liquor at lunch, but never this many in the store at one time at this time of day” Mr. Gallenstein said over the din of tickets printing from a computerized lottery device.

[photo] George Koch (left) of Price Hill and Kevin Hilvers of Mount Healthy buy Powerball tickets at the Liquor Kwik store in Covington from clerk Terrence Blanton.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Asked how he thinks business will be Saturday night, when the next Powerball drawing will be held at 10:57 p.m., Mr. Gallenstein shook his head and offered a one-word prediction:


        Because no one won Wednesday's $200 million jackpot, lines are expected to grow even longer today and Saturday at retailers that sell Powerball tickets.

        On Wednesday alone, Powerball sales in Kentucky totaled $5.2 million, according to Heather Shutte of the Kentucky Lottery Corp. in Louisville. That's an average of $90 per second.

        Since Saturday, sales have exceeded $8.9 million in the state, she said.

        Because the game isn't played in Ohio, hordes of Ohioans — undaunted by the 80-million-to-one odds of winning — rolled across Ohio River bridges Thursday to buy tickets.

        Tom Jordan, a 58-year-old retiree from Lebanon, drives to Kentucky twice every week to play Powerball. He wishes the game were offered in Ohio, but he doesn't mind the 40-minute trek to Covington.

        “For $200 million, I don't mind at all,” he said with a laugh.

        Mr. Jordan uses a combination of his wedding anniversary and the birthdays of his children to pick the six numbers on the $32 worth of tickets he purchased Thursday.

        “Same numbers every week,” he said.

        “If I win, I'll probably end up giving most of it to the kids.”

        Rather than dreaming of yachts, world vacations, mansions overlooking the ocean and European sports cars, many in line Thursday had modest, generous plans if they were to win.

        “I have four teen-agers,” said Scott Porter, 40, a landscaper from Kennedy Heights who took his lunch hour to buy some tickets.

        “So I know where a lot of the money will be going — to the family.”

        Brian Ledbetter's winnings would also go to his family — specifically the college educations for his four children — 13, 4 and 2-year-old twins.

        “If I win,” said Mr. Ledbetter, 33, of Xenia, about an hour from Northern Kentucky up Interstate 71, “they can go (to college) anywhere they want.”

        Mr. Ledbetter and co-worker Darrell Ridinger of Waynesville, Ohio, drove to Covington Thursday to pluck down $65 they collected from two worker pools at XMI, an auto testing company they work for in Dayton.

        “I'll do the same thing if I win,” said Mr. Ledbetter, 47. “Help family and friends.”

        Debbie Bennett of Reading stopped by Covington on her way to work at the Evanston Senior Center in Cincinnati. She bought $11 worth of tickets for some of the residents at the center.

        “They heard about it and they wanted a chance to win,” Ms. Bennett said. “So I collected some money and came down to get them their tickets. It's fun to dream.”

        Saturday's jackpot is estimated at $280 million, but it's likely to go higher, Ms. Schutte said. The cash option on the jackpot stood at $162.9 million Wednesday.

        The biggest Powerball jackpot ever is the $295.7 million won in 1998 by a group of factory workers in Westerville, Ohio. The richest lottery prize in U.S. history is the $363 million Big Game jackpot, won last year by two players in Illinois and Michigan.

        Powerball, available in Kentucky since 1992, is played in 21 states and Washington, D.C., but not Ohio or Indiana.

       The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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