By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Millions of dollars on the line should result in long lines in front of lottery machines Tuesday as area residents buy their chances in the latest Mega Millions jackpot.
The Mega Millions jackpot reached $586 million Monday while a flurry of ticket purchases raised the possibility of the prize hitting the $1 billion level by Christmas Eve. Clerks in area stores were seeing plenty of people buying tickets Monday, but they expected even more buyers on Tuesday.
“Oh yes, a lot were sold,” said Brittany Nester, a cashier at the Swift Mart in Bluefield, Va. “Twenty five at a time, 30 at a time.”
Her coworker, Greg Jones, expected a lot more activity Tuesday.
“There wasn’t a lot today, but tomorrow will be hard,” he predicted. “I worked the last one, so I’m used to it.”
Monday’s Mega Millions jackpot was the fourth largest in United States history and trails the $587.5 million and the $590.5 million set by Powerball. The Mega Millions lottery has seen heavy ticket sales during the last few days. Some lottery officials told the Associated Press that many lottery players tend to wait until the day of the drawing. Local store clerks agreed.
Most local players usually buy one dollar ticket at a time, said Manager Pam Pilkins of Smoker Friendly Tobacco Outlet. The amounts spent on tickets tend to increase when a big jackpot is possible.
“Most of it is $5 and $10,” Pilkins said. “They’re taking more chances.”
“Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” said clerk Alice Bush.
At Hometown Service Center, the employees were bracing for the rush on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow, the machine will be smoking,” said cashier Tanner Williams.