As the Powerball jackpot climbed to an estimated $900 million, a steady stream of people came in and out of the Johnny Quik Food Store at E and Fresno streets Saturday evening hoping for their shot at the prize.
More than 200 people had purchased Powerball tickets adding up to more than $3,000 in sales on Saturday alone, said David Gill, who worked the cash register at the store Saturday evening.
Jonathan McDonald said he decided to play the Powerball game for the very first time after learning of the massive jackpot. “I don’t usually gamble,” McDonald said. “I don’t go to casinos or anything, but I thought I’d get a ticket.”
Like the majority of past lottery winners, McDonald said he would choose to take a lump sum payout should he win.
Larren Mathershed bought several tickets for his mother, who usually plays lottery scratchers but chose to play Powerball this time. Mathershed didn’t buy any tickets for himself, citing the low likelihood of actually winning the jackpot.
Tynika McCray bought Powerball tickets for the first time ever on Saturday evening. “I said, ‘Well, this is the perfect opportunity to purchase some tickets since the Powerball lottery is so large,’ ” McCray said. Should she win, McCray would first put money aside for her grandchildren, feed the the homeless and invest her money.
At the AM-PM convenience store at C and Fresno streets, store employee Lizeth Rios reported the store saw roughly 100 people come in to buy lottery tickets from 3 to 5 p.m.
People across the country dreamed about what they would do with the largest lottery prize in U.S. history – vacationing in warm climates, sharing with family members – and could still be thinking big in the coming days. If no one matches all the numbers on Saturday night, the next drawing is expected to soar to $1.3 billion.
The U.S. saw sales of $277 million on Friday alone and more than $400 million was expected Saturday, according to Gary Grief, the executive director of the Texas Lottery.
The frenzy was real Saturday afternoon at a newsstand in New York City’s Penn Station, where cashier Setara Begum said she was exhausted from taking about $10,000 worth of orders that ranged from a single $2 ticket to one man buying $500 worth of tickets.
“I’m going crazy! I can’t take it anymore!” she said, burying her face in her hands but giggling uncontrollably as she turned to a line of customers. Another employee stood at the newsstand’s entrance offering $10 worth of tickets on one page.
Since Nov. 4, the Powerball jackpot has grown from its $40 million starting point as no one has won the jackpot.