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Powerball: You too could be wealthier than several small countries

February 10, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A yacht for each day of the week. A garage filled with Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Ferraris. A veritable Xanadu to be built on the tropical island of your choice.

All these and more treasures can be within the reach of someone lucky enough to win this Saturday’s Powerball, which on Friday stood at $315 million.

If there were a single winner, that amount could put the ticket-holder between the gross national products of Tonga and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Taking the cash payoff of $193.4 million would still place a single winner ahead of the Cook Islands and seven other countries.

However, some hopeful purchasers have more down-to-earth aspirations.

“I’m going to donate some,” Donnell Cosley said after buying a ticket at C&R Liquors on Dual Highway.

How about something special for yourself?

“I’m going to take my family to Disneyland,” Cosley said.

“I guess I’ll be taking care of my family and friends. Close friends,” said Renee Johnston, a clerk at Longmeadow Wine & Liquors.

Should someone hold the ticket with all five numbers and the Powerball, the winner or winners might find they have friends they never heard of before.

“As soon as it gets up there people get a little crazy,” Mike Folk, owner of Longmeadow Wine & Liquors, said of lottery sales.

“It’ll be crazy in here tonight and tomorrow,” Johnston said.

As tickets continue to be purchased — the price of a Powerball ticket doubled this year to $2 — the jackpot is not yet a record. The largest in American history was a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot split by two winners in 2007.

Powerball’s current record is $365 million in 2006.

“Since the increase in price to $2, I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re winning a lot more small prizes, and the jackpots are just leapfrogging,” Leroy Thorne, a district sales manager for the Maryland Lottery, said outside the Longmeadow store.

“Hagerstown is a heck of a good town for the lottery, even with the tip jars,” Thorne said of the gaming competition from nonprofit groups.

Tickets have been selling “really well since they started the $2 Powerball,” said Larry Keyser, a sales associate at C&R Liquors.

“I’ll probably pay off some bills and save for vacation,” Keyser said of his plans if he wins some money. He would also help family members, and donate to breast cancer and heart charities because of illnesses suffered by family members.

“And, of course, take care of my fellow employees and managers,” Keyser said.

However, Keyser was not betting the rent money.

“I just bought one,” he said. “One is all it takes.”

Outside the store, Frank Smith of Hagerstown was scratching off a $20 Silver & Gold lottery ticket. He won $50, so he was $30 ahead. Smith said he planned to buy a Powerball ticket Saturday morning.

“I’d have my own house built, for one thing. I rent now,” Smith said. The closest he has ever come to big money was about a decade ago when he collected $5,000 on a Pick Three ticket, Smith said.

The biggest jackpot ever hit in Maryland was in 2003 when a Baltimore County woman won $183 million in Mega Millions, according to the Maryland Lottery website.

A Pennsylvania couple has the Maryland Powerball record, winning nearly $130 million on Christmas Eve in 2011, the website said.

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