(Mike Jensen Jr., Staff)
Many people around the country believe Saturday will be their lucky day when they have a chance to win a Powerball jackpot that could reach $300 million.
No tickets matched all six numbers in Wednesday night's highly anticipated draw, worth $193.5 million. Now the unofficial prize for Saturday's drawing forecast at $280 million prompting area Powerball retailers to brace for another rush of ticket buyers. The jackpot for Saturday's drawing is the second highest in Powerball and third highest U.S. lottery jackpot ever.
While The Bottle Shop in Sikeston did not see a large rush on Thursday, one is expected on Saturday just like they had on Wednesday.
"We had a lot of people come in (Wednesday)," said Dennis Fraser, owner of The Bottle Shop. "We probably had 10 times what we normally do. We were swamped all day until the draw."
Fraser expects just as many, if not more people on Saturday.
"We do have to hire extra help when it gets like this," Fraser said. "It only happens about once or twice a year, but we do have to hire extra help."
Wednesday's Powerball sales at Wink's in New Madrid were estimated by Terri Faries as a record. Saturday, she said, should exceed that.
The line of ticketbuyers Thursday was already steady as some players brought in their paper Powerball tickets to be checked.
"It's been steady for the last three days," said Faries, who has her Powerball numbers picked as well.
The biggest Powerball jackpot ever is the $295.7 million won in 1998 by a group of factory workers in 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.
While the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 80 million, it still doesn't stop people from playing.
"It's the dream of winning the $300 million," said Blake Ford, 23, of Sikeston, when asked why he is playing the lottery. Ford, who said he plays only when the jackpot gets over $100 million, spent $20 on tickets Thursday afternoon, a total that seems to be about the norm.
"We will have people come in from an office that have went together in a pool and they will buy maybe 150 tickets, but on the average people buy $5 to $20 worth," Fraser said.
It was estimated that 77 percent of the possible combinations of numbers were used on tickets for Wednesday's drawing. For Saturday's game, 91 percent of the combinations should be covered if ticket sales reach expected levels.
Most of those picking up tickets Wednesday at Wink's in New Madrid were letting the machine pick their numbers. Their dreams, however, were all their own.
One woman offered if she won she would share it with her co-workers. Another would pay off her bills and help her children pay theirs.
"I'd be satisfied with just part of it," said another. "I wouldn't mind sharing $1 million with 280 other people."
''Statistically, because of the way the game is designed, the likelihood of hitting jackpots this high is in the range of about once every four years,'' said Powerball creator Ed Stanek, commissioner of the Iowa Lottery, where the game originates.
Iowa's 1,600 lottery machines were selling an average of a ticket a minute prior to Wednesday night's drawing. Saturday's crunch will be worse, Stanek said.
''Saturday drawings are always richer than Wednesday drawings,'' he said. ''Our advice is certainly to buy the tickets as early as possible and not wait until Saturday.''
The five Powerball retailers in Greenwich, Conn., obtained permission from lottery officials Thursday to suspend sales for 24 hours, saying New Yorkers were inundating their businesses.
''It's such a large jackpot,'' said Dominic Pizzimenti of Astoria, N.Y., who stood in a downpour outside a Greenwich gas station. ''Maybe if we hit the jackpot we can afford to live in Greenwich and complain like everybody else.''
Police Chief Peter Robbins said officers have been too busy monitoring the long lines at retailers. Greenwich is the first Connecticut town on a major commuter railway out of New York City.
Powerball tickets are sold at 30,000 terminals in Washington, D.C., and the 21 states where the game is played.
The biggest Powerball jackpot ever is the $295.7 million won in 1998 by a group of factory workers in Ohio.
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