$2 to get $550 million an attractive Powerball bet to many
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
One after another, people coming Tuesday afternoon into the Kwik Stop Texaco on Southwest 13th Street had cash in hand and their numbers — and dreams — ready.
Yes, Gainesville is in the grip of Powerball fever.
The likelihood of actually winning the jackpot of more than $500 million and growing is infinitesimal, but that didn't stop individuals or pools of co-workers, family and friends from ponying up for the $2 tickets.
"I think it is a fever. Everybody has the optimism. It's sort of a win/win — just the chance of it makes it OK," said Stephanie Quintal, a University of Florida student. "I'm getting three — one for me, one for my boyfriend and one for my mom. Of course, we will split it if one of us wins."
The frenzy is in the 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that are feeding the Powerball jackpot. The interest is expected to continue rising through today until the winning numbers are called tonight.
There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game. It is the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March, according to The Associated Press.
Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes to the prizes, and the other $1 is kept by the state lottery organization. The ticket price was doubled in January to build jackpots faster.
Just in case any customers were not aware of the jumbo jackpot, Kwik Stop clerk Vaishali Patel had a sign at the counter letting people know about it.
"A lot of people are playing. It really started on Monday with more people coming in to play," Patel said. "Most people are buying one, if they don't play every day. People who play every day are buying more."
At the SAI Kwik Stop at 1201 SW 16th Ave., Brijeshi "Coach" Patel said every other customer is buying a Powerball.
"Some people don't have the money for it, especially right after the holiday, but many people are buying Powerball," he said. "I hope many people win. That's a lot of money for one or two people."
The Lottery put the odds of winning at one in 175 million. That means people have a greater chance of being bitten by a shark, the odds of which are one in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida Museum of Natural History.
People have an even greater chance of being struck by lightning — National Geographic puts that probability at one in 3,000 in a lifetime.
But the long odds aren't stopping people from dreaming of what they would do with the money.
"I only play when it gets big like this," Vivian Wallace said. "I'd pay off some bills, I'd get a house that I really want, and I would give some to breast cancer (research). My sister had it, so I'd be good to them."