Powerball players line up for record jackpot

May 19, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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PowerballPowerball players line up for record jackpot

MARLOWE, W.Va. - Powerball lottery sales were reaching a frenzy Tuesday as ticket-buyers lined up for a chance at the world record $175 million jackpot up for grabs tonight.

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A line formed early Tuesday and continued throughout the day at the Texaco Food Mart in Marlowe, at the northernmost exit off Interstate 81 in West Virginia.

Tuesday afternoon, 25 people waited there to buy chances for the massive prize.

"It's been like this all day," said Janette Cookes, supervisor at the Texaco Food Mart. "We'll definitely be glad when this is over."


"We've really been swamped," said Glen Cunningham, owner of State Line Market in Bunker Hill, W.Va., near the Virginia border. "There's a lot of office pools and such getting $200, $300 in tickets."

Powerball is played in 20 states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The odds of one person matching all six numbers for a share of the jackpot are 80.1 million-to-1. A person is 40 times more likely to die falling out of bed and 320 times more likely to perish in a plane crash than to win even a piece of the jackpot.

According to ''The Book of Risks'' by Larry Laudan, a philosophy professor at the University of Hawaii, the odds of dying are:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> 3 million-to-1 by freezing.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> 2 million-to-1 by falling out of bed.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> 250,000-to-1 in a plane crash.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> 5,000-to-1 in a car crash.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> 80,000-to-1 from complications from surgery.

Jennifer Fosnot, a clerk at the 7-Eleven in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said she expects a crowd today of last-minute buyers coming from Maryland.

"One man came in and bought $100 in tickets," she said.

Nancy Bulla, a spokeswoman for West Virginia Lottery, said lottery ticket sales, particularly along the border counties, were unbelievable.

"What we are seeing is incredible," Bulla said. Betwen 6 and 11 a.m. Tuesday, 336,369 tickets were sold statewide and the pace continued to pick up.

The previous largest Powerball prize was $111 million, set in July 1993, Bulla said. The jackpot was last hit on April 21 and has continued to build up since then, she said.

"The people who are the driving force of the record sales are people who don't normally play," Bulla said.

Walter Stehl, 80, of Hagerstown, normally doesn't play Powerball, but he drove to the Texaco Food Mart on "just a hunch."

"With that amount of money it'd be hard to decide where to spend it," Stehl said. "I would give some to the church and some to relatives, probably buy a new car and go on some very long and expensive vacations. I'd try to spend it all in the next 10 years."

Tim Stotler, 45, of Williamsport, stood in line at the Texaco in his sweat-stained T-shirt, his face dusty after a day of laying brick in blazing hot weather.

But as he thought about the jackpot, he smiled.

"I'd quit my job like that," said the self-employed bricklayer before buying $20 in lottery tickets.

Herman Bartles, 73, of Marlowe, waited in line about 15 minutes to buy one ticket. "I play one every week. It only takes one," Bartles said.

Gene Wolford, 72, of Halfway, said he does not usually bet on lotteries but could not resist taking a chance on the record-breaking prize.

"I'd split it with my five kids," Wolford said. "And we need a new Sunday school at our church."

Rod Hunsecker, 48, drove from his home in Chambersburg, Pa., to Marlowe to play Powerball.

Hunsecker, who normally does not play lotteries, spent $20 on tickets after making the 45-minute drive to the Texaco Food Mart.

"It was just one of those spur-of-the-moment things. You just have to take a chance," Hunsecker said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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