By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
With the Powerball jackpot at $500 million and growing, residents across the two Virginias are buying up lottery tickets and hoping they have chosen the winning numbers.
Leta Bailey, a clerk at the Gulf Station on Bluefield Avenue in Bluefield, said many of her regular customers are buying more tickets than usual in hopes of winning.
“We haven’t had more people than usual, but many people are buying more tickets than normal,” Bailey said. “We had one guy the other day who bought $100 worth of tickets. Most people are buying about $20 or $30 worth, so about 10 to 15 tickets.”
Bailey said she has purchased a ticket herself this time.
“We’ve had people talking about how big the jackpot is,” she said. “A lot of them say they want to take care of their families if they win. I bought one myself, though I don’t usually play. If I won, I’d like to fix up a home for children in the area who don’t have parents and provide for the elderly in this area. It would be nice to win.”
Edith Jarrell, a clerk at the Swift Mart on Virginia Avenue in Bluefield, Va., said many people have come in asking for tickets because of the growing jackpot.
“It’s probably going to be more than $500 million by the time they have the drawing,” Jarrell said. “We have seen a lot of people coming in already, and I’m expecting we will see a lot more before the drawing. I’ve seen a lot of regulars, but we have been getting in a lot of new customers as well. They are usually buying around $10 worth of tickets. I would say most people buy between one ticket and $10 worth of tickets. One of our customers said the jackpot is so big if you spent $1,000 a day you couldn’t spend it in a lifetime. I told him to have fun trying.”
In addition to many local residents wanting to win, Jarrell said many stores in the area are hoping to sell the winning ticket.
“We are hoping to sell a winner,” she said. “Virginia has a cap on how much money a store can get if they sell the winning ticket. There is some recognition that you get for selling it, though. Anytime you sell a big winner more people will start coming in. They want the luck to rub off on them.”
Jarrell said she hopes the winning ticket the store sells is the one she has a part stake in.
“We have a pool going between the store clerks and a few of our regulars,” she said. “We have all put in $10. We are really hoping to win.”
Brittini Mullins, a clerk at the Gulf Station on Cumberland Road in Bluefield, said she is seeing many customers who only purchase tickets when the jackpot is substantial enough.
“A lot of people have said they only buy when it’s big,” Mullins said. “We are seeing a lot of people who said they never buy tickets, but they also came in to buy tickets earlier this year when they had the jackpot that was more than $300 million. There have been quite a few people buying tickets. There are a lot who have bought them before, but some people who haven’t.”
Mullins said many people are not only buying for the first time but also buying large quantities of tickets.
“Some people have been buying 5 to 10 tickets at a time,” she said. “We are expecting even more people to come in today because that’s the day of the drawing. Our regulars are buying a lot more tickets than usually. Most are buying between $10 and $20 worth of tickets. A lot of them said they would quit their job if they won, or they would give money to the store.”
Mullins said she wouldn’t mind selling or buying the winning ticket.
“It would be pretty cool to sell the winning ticket,” she said. “My brothers and I bought some tickets ourselves the other day. We don’t usually buy them, but we thought why not?”
Residents and store clerks aren’t the only ones hoping to cash in on the winning ticket. West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave said the state is hoping to claim another record-breaking win.
“We are excited to have another record jackpot driving interest in the game,” Musgrave said. “We had statewide sales of $1.12 million for last Saturday’s drawing, and we expect strong sales for today’s drawing. West Virginia has historically been a lucky state with eight total Powerball jackpot winners. We are hopeful that another lucky West Virginia player has the winning ticket for tonight’s drawing.”
The state’s last Powerball winner was Randy Smith of Martinsburg, who won a $79 million prize in August 2010. Another West Virginia resident, Jack Whittaker of Scotts Depot, holds the record for the second highest Powerball Jackpot claimed by an individual when he won more than $314 million on Christmas Day 2002.
The highest Powerball jackpot ever won was the recent $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March this year, which was split between three winners. Donald Lawson of Lapeer, Mich. holds the record for the largest individual win when he scored $337 million during a Powerball lottery drawing this past August.
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.orgۢ