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Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:55 AM

Ottawa lottery sales up as Powerball reaches $500M

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer

Will lottery lightning strike twice in Ottawa? 

The jackpot now stands at $500 million for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, the largest in the game’s history. With the winnings so high, local lottery tickets sales have gone up, merchants said. 

“The sales have definitely shown that we’ve actually sold more than we normally would,” Tina Henricks, manager at the Casey’s General Store at 940 N. Main St., Ottawa.

The convenience store saw an increase in the $2 Powerball ticket sales in the past few days, the manager said. Saturday, the store sold almost $1,300 worth of tickets and about $500 worth on Monday, Henricks said, which is above normal by a few hundred at least.

Besides the multi-million dollar jackpot, there could be another reason the lottery ticket sales at the North Main location are doing well. That Casey’s store is the one that sold a Mega Millions winning ticket worth $110.5 million in March. The winner, who chose to remain anonymous, split their winnings with two other winners from Illinois and Maryland. People frequently mention that the winning ticket was bought at that store, Henricks said, and she is hoping the luck continues here in Ottawa. 

“We’re sure hoping so. It’d be great if it did. So we’re going to try and push them on everybody and see if we can try to make it happen,” she said. 

Powerball is played in 44 states with drawings on Saturday and Wednesday at 8:59 p.m. The biggest jackpot in the game so far was a $365 million prize split by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant in February 2006, according to a release from the Kansas Lottery in Topeka. Like in the Mega Millions jackpot, the winnings could end up being split between multiple winners, Dennis Wilson, Kansas Lottery director, said. 

“With such a large amount of money at stake, people are more apt to join with office groups, social clubs, family or friends to purchase a large pool of tickets together. While having a single winner is great, people also like to see a group share the wealth,” Wilson said in the release. 

Even with a big winning ticket coming out of Ottawa recently, one local ticket seller says that doesn’t decrease, or increase, the chances of it happening again. People tell Chris Adams, store clerk at Short Stop convenience store, they don’t think a big winner will be from Ottawa this time. 

“It would be unlikely, since it was unlikely the first time really,” Adams said Tuesday at the store’s 1621 S. Main St. location. “The way I look at it, lottery doesn’t know where the ticket came from.”

Like the Casey’s store, Short Stop also has been doing well in the lottery ticket sales, Adams said. The store sold $506 worth of tickets Monday and more than $250 worth by Tuesday afternoon. The sales are likely to continue, he said. 

“Tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit $1,000 or more, I’m sure,” Adams said. 

Not a regular lottery participant, Adams said he might just take his chances on this potential big pay day. 

“I don’t buy them very often but usually if it gets high like that I will, just for the heck of it,” the clerk said with a laugh. 

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