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Huge jackpot powers lottery sales

March 04, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - During a rare lull in the rush to buy tickets for Saturday night's estimated $150 million Powerball drawing, Brenda Ryan chatted Saturday afternoon with a customer at Apple Country Market on U.S. 11, just a few miles from Virginia.

She asked the man, who had requested six Powerball chances printed on separate tickets, what he would do if he won the jackpot.

"I really don't know what I'd do with that kind of money," the man replied.

Ryan has a good idea what she'll do if one of her five tickets is a winner.

She admitted to splurging on five $1 tickets because of the huge pot. She usually plays just $1 every Saturday.

"I would probably pay off my car, pay off my house, go on a trip and give my kids the rest," said Ryan, who would like to go to the Bahamas.

Powerball sellers in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle were busy Saturday selling tickets to dreamers like Ryan, who came in larger numbers and purchased more tickets than on an average drawing day.

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Powerball business was so heavy at the Texaco in Marlowe, W.Va., where there were more cars - many with Maryland and Pennsylvania tags - than parking spaces, the clerks designated a "Powerball line" with a hand-printed paper sign hung above the counter.

By 3:50 p.m., the store had sold $12,879 worth of Powerball tickets Saturday, according to the store's Powerball machine printout.

Pete Sweeney, 79, of Hagerstown, was responsible for $10 of that. But only $1 was for himself, according to Sweeney, who said he normally doesn't play.

He said that if he wins he'll pay some bills then divide the rest between his family and charitable donations.

Travis Yates, 69, of Hagerstown said he doesn't normally play either. He was just passing by the Texaco and decided to stop and buy five tickets.

"I know I'm not going to win, but I won't have a chance if I don't have a ticket," said Yates, who added that his minister warns against gambling of any kind.

Both men were small-time players compared to most people buying Powerball tickets Saturday, clerks around the Eastern Panhandle said.

"People are buying not only in the tens and twenties, they're buying them by the hundreds," said April Miller, a clerk at the Sheetz store at Inwood, W.Va.

Miller said she saw ticket sales build throughout the day.

"There's a lot of people who don't even know the name of it but still want to play," she said.

Sheetz customer Debbie Leck, 39, of Kearneysville, W.Va., said she was playing $10 - $5 on numbers she and her family picked and $5 on randomly picked numbers.

"I definitely play when it's big, because you never know. It might be the lucky one," said Leck, who has philanthropic plans for much of her winnings.

"I think the school would get a lot of money and the church would get a lot of money and I'd create some scholarships and move to the Keys," she said.

Bob Collis, 48, of Inwood, said he knows exactly what he'll do if one of the tickets he bought at Apple Country Market Saturday turns out to be a winner.

"Retire and build a bowling alley. I'm a bowling nut," said Collis, who has played $15 a drawing ever since the time his numbers hit for $100,000 - and he hadn't bought a ticket.

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