The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

November 29, 2012

Lottery buzz big for business

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — The historic Powerball jackpot boosted to $550 million on Wednesday was all part of a plan lottery officials put in place early this year to build jackpots faster, drive sales and generate more money for states that run the game.

Their plan appears to be working.

Powerball tickets doubled in price in January to $2 and while the number of tickets sold initially dropped, sales revenue has increased by about 35 percent over 2011.

The buzz building around the record jackpot was already evident Monday at news stands, grocery stores and gas stations selling tickets for last night’s drawing.

Gary Withey of Fisher’s Newsstand in Albion said Monday that he was bracing for a rush for business on the day of the jackpot drawing.

“They are already going fast and the day of the jackpot is always busy,” Withey said. “I’ll have to work fast.”

Sales for Powerball reached a record $3.96 billion in fiscal 2012 and are expected to reach $5 billion this year, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs the Powerball game.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6 and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game. It was first posted at $425 million but revised upward to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout. It’s the second highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.

The payout inspired plenty of dreams among lottery players.

“I’m going to take care of all my babies,” said Rita Mitchell, a mother of four, grandmother of 14 and great grandmother of one. “You’ll never see me again if I won. Me and my family are moving away, somewhere warm.”

Mitchell waited for her paycheck from Gi Dry Cleaners in Lockport to buy her tickets. “I’m broke and I’m going to have to wait for tomorrow,” she said Tuesday. “I’ll buy at least $20 worth and make my boys do the same.”

East Center Street Stop-n-Shop owner Bobbi Huwyler said her store had its best sales day since it opened this spring on Tuesday, but questioned how anyone could ever spend the winnings.

“I think when it gets that high, they should just award 500 $1 million jackpots,” Huwyler said. “When are you going to need $500 million?”

That’s a question that many are willing to answer. It has been proven that once the jackpot reaches a certain threshold more players buy.

Between $20 and $30 million in tickets were sold between Wednesday and Saturday drawings for most of October. Once the jackpot hit $100 million on Oct. 27, nearly $38 million worth of tickets were sold by Oct. 31. As the jackpot grew to more than $200 million on Nov. 17, sales surged by nearly $70 million by the next Wednesday. Then the jackpot reached over $300 million on Nov. 24 and ticket sales over the next four days surpassed $140 million.

The jackpot was posted at $425 million Monday, then upped to $500 Tuesday and $550 Wednesday afternoon.

Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.