Record $550M Powerball jackpot lures Valley residents
Ryan Crandall of Northampton laughs as he explains what he would do if he won the powerball lottery. "Pay for my daughter's school."
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Ian Vukovich of Northampton talks about his reasons for entering the powerball Lotto Wednesday.
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EASTHAMPTON — Resident Joseph Civitarese cashed a scratch ticket worth a few bucks at College Highway Variety Wednesday afternoon, but the ticket he was really hoping to get lucky on was the Powerball ticket in his pocket that could be worth $550 million.
And he wasn’t alone. Lottery retailers around the country were busy as regular and occasional lottery players alike picked up the $2 tickets for a chance to win the largest Powerball jackpot ever.
Civitarese said he doesn’t usually play Powerball, but he couldn’t resist the big jackpot. “It’s a big game, and you never know,” he said at the Main Street variety Store. “It’s like one in a trillion.”
The odds are actually 175 million to one, said Lisa McDonald, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts State Lottery.
“It’s estimated at $550 million, but typically the actual amount goes over. We’ll see how far over if it gets hit,” she said. The winning numbers — 5-16-22-23-29 — were drawn late Wednesday, but the winner may not be known for some time.
If the winner opts for the one-time lump sum, he or she would receive $360.2 million, McDonald said. The other option is to get $18.3 million each year for 30 years.
“There’s a lot of excitement here among the staff, it’s been busy, but the real action is at the retailers,” McDonald said. During the busy “drive time” from 4 to 7 p.m., Massachusetts lottery retailers were selling $18,000 in Powerball tickets every minute, she said.
Jay Pateo, a clerk at Northampton Market on the corner of Conz and Old South streets, said that Powerball sales at the store topped $1,000, compared to the usual amount of around $300.
“And today, it will be more than $2,000,” he said while serving customers.
The Powerball frenzy has attracted many people who rarely play the lottery, or are doing so for the first time, he said. “I’ve seen a lot of new faces,” he said.
Ryan Crandall of Northampton said he plays the lottery “sometimes,” but is sure to grab a ticket when the prize swells to a record-breaking size. “I buy one with my numbers and one quick-pick,” he said.
And what would he do with the millions if he won? “Pay for my daughter’s school,” he said.
Behind the counter of College Highway Variety, Manu Patel said his store saw more traffic than usual Tuesday and Wednesday, but customers also bought more than their usual one ticket, trying to increase their chances.
“They are buying 10 tickets, 20 tickets, even 50 tickets for $100,” he said.
Ian Vukovich of Northampton bought 15 tickets at Northampton Market Wednesday afternoon. He said he plays Powerball fairly often.
“You kind of pay to have the dream,” he said. “You hope lightning strikes, even though it probably won’t.”
If his are the winning numbers, Vukovich said he’d be generous to everyone he knows and spend big. “I’d buy everything I’ve ever wanted,” he said, grinning.
The jackpot has already rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner, but Powerball officials say they now believe there is a 75 percent chance the winning combination will be drawn this time.
If one ticket hits the right numbers, chances are good that multiple ones will, according to some experts. That happened in the Mega Millions drawing in March, when three ticket buyers shared a $656 million jackpot. That remains the largest lottery payout of all time.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.