The big Powerball day is here: Lines have formed at gas stations and other retail locations across Fresno where Powerball tickets are sold as hopeful players vie for a shot at the estimated $1.5 billionjackpot that was to be drawn Wednesday night.
Sales have been up for many store owners across Fresno in the past few weeks as lottery fervor increased. As the payout number has grown, many have been hoping to get one more shot at the jackpot, with sales closing at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Customers like Chico Santana of Fresno were coming in steadily at the Family Express on First Street and Olive Avenue. Santana has played the lottery before, winning small amounts. Santana has four children, so if he won the Powerball, the money would go toward them, as well as paying off medical expenses and other bills.
He’s spent $2 here and there the last few weeks, Santana said. Money changes people, he said, so he’s hesitated buying lots of tickets. But becoming a billionaire overnight would change anyone, he said, so a few dollars spent is worth the risk.
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Many are gambling much more than that, according to Ahmad Murshed, the owner of the Valero convenience store at Blackstone and McKinley avenues. The average customer he gets spends around $30 on lottery tickets, he said, with the majority choosing quick picks over individual selections. One customer has been spending $200 every week since the jackpot started growing.
Sales have picked up at other locations across Fresno, including the Food King near Fresno City College on Home Avenue. One customer there spent as much as $1,100, store manager Nageeb Ahmad said.
Gina Alvarez of Fresno put in $20 for a family pool, hoping to increase her odds by playing together. Her husband stopped at six different locations on his way home from work on Tuesday, feeling lucky, Alvarez said, but she’s a bit more hesitant. If she wins the money, though, she’ll give $1 million to her brother, and an additional $1 million to her retired parents who are on fixed incomes.
Whether he wins or not, Santana is remaining positive. He says he knows his odds, but tomorrow is always another day.
“You wake up and get things done, whether you win or not,” Santana said.
Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614