Local News

Powerball sales spike ahead of $250M jackpot

Posted August 18, 2009 10:37 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2009 11:50 p.m. EDT

— Powerball fever is high after the expected jackpot for Wednesday evening's drawing rose to $250 million Tuesday.

C Mini Mart cashier Paula Gooch said Powerball sales were especially high Tuesday as people rushed to buy tickets. The 3405 Poole Road convenient store in Raleigh is the biggest Powerball ticket seller in the Triangle.

"A lot of winners come out of this store. They have certificates of what people have won here,” Gooch said.

"I play all my numbers here (at the C Mini Mart),” lottery player Aprile Hodge said.

Hodge said she usually buys 10 Powerball tickets a week.

"I would take care of my family, pay off debt,” Hodge said of how she would spend the winnings. "I might take a cruise. I have never been anywhere."

Sales of Powerball tickets around North Carolina are added up in real-time. At one point Tuesday, sales jumped to $1,400 a minute as news of the jackpot spread, North Carolina Education Lottery spokeswoman Pamela Walker said.

“Sales are pretty brisk all around the country, including in North Carolina,” said Tom Shaheen, executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery.

The boost is good news to lottery officials who said they were worried the down economy would hurt interest in the game.

Lottery player Towona Williamson said she thinks people are buying tickets due to tough economic times.

"Everybody is looking for a way to come up,” Williamson said.

Although the odds of winning the jackpot are one in 195 million – a person's chances of being struck by lightning or becoming president of the United States are better – those dreaming of winning big said it is worth spending the extra money, even in a tough economy.

"It is big and somebody is going to hit,” Hodge said.

Since its inception in March 2006, the lottery has provided $1.1 billion to public education in North Carolina.

State law designates that 50 percent of proceeds be split between pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk 4-year-olds and reducing class sizes in the early grades, 40 percent to school construction and 10 percent to college scholarships.

The Powerball drawing airs at 11 p.m. Wednesday on WRAL-TV.