Don’t bet on me to win Powerball prize

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

KENTWOOD, La. — On this mid-afternoon Thursday, the KentwoodRouco Convenience Store on Highway 51 is not overrun withcustomers, but there’s a steady stream.

“It’s busier than usual,” said one of two clerks working thecounter.

Every few minutes somebody comes in to get a soft drink, a beer,some cigarettes or to pay for gasoline. Most of them hand over anextra dollar for a ticket — the ticket.

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Multi-state Powerball.

With no winner in Wednesday night’s drawing, millionairewannabees have helped push Saturday’s prize up close to $300million. The jackpot is expected to be the second highest inPowerball history and the third largest U.S. lottery jackpotever.

While the Rouco had a nice flow of customers Thursday, it wasn’tanything like what happened in Greenwich, Conn. According to anAssociated Press report, it went something like this:

The Powerball is offered in 21 states — Arizona, Colorado,Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire,New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia andWisconsin — and the District of Columbia.

Missing from the list is New York, and Greenwich just happens tobe the first Connecticut town on a major commuter rail line out ofNew York City.

Greenwich officials got permission to suspend ticket salesFriday because they were so overwhelmed by New YorkersThursday.

Clerks at the Rouco, which is one of the top lottery ticketsellers in the Baton Rouge region, said they will see businessincrease as time for the drawing gets closer.

“We were really busy Wednesday night,” one of them said. “Seemslike people like to wait to the last minute.”

What are the odds of winning this prize? The AP offers thisquote from one official:

”Statistically, because of the way the game is designed, thelikelihood of hitting jackpots this high is in the range of aboutonce every four years,” said Powerball creator Ed Stanek,commissioner of the Iowa Lottery, where the game originates.

That’s the polite way of saying “you’ll come closer to gettinghit by lightning.”

According to the official Powerball website, these are theodds:

To win the jackpot, your chances are 1 in 80,089,128. (Whilethat’s better than betting that I’ll be the next Miss America,you’ve got to admit, those are some mighty long odds.)

Your odds of winning $100,000, which would mean you picked allthe correct numbers except the Powerball number, are 1 in1,953,393.

But, eventually, somebody will win the money. The biggestPowerball jackpot ever was $295.7 million, and it was won by agroup of Ohio factory workers in 1998.

One Rouco patron, evidently a regular, bought his ticket while Iwas there Thursday afternoon. I had to ask.

Do you think you’ll win?

“I hope the hell so,” he said.

Have you ever won anything?

“Not a damn thing.”

But, there are winners, according to the clerks at the Rouco. InWednesday’s drawing — just in Louisiana — 203,893 winning ticketswere sold. The prizes ranged from $100,000 to $3.

As I bought my ticket and headed out the door, one of the clerksgave me a Louisiana Lottery key chain.

At least I got something for my dollar.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send email to