Lottery players hold fast to dreams

Marie Hannah is overwhelmed with the lottery fever, saying if she won, she would buy her own private island to get away from everything after being swamped at the Fast Stop in Buckhannon by customers wanting to get a chance at winning an estimated $550 million in Saturday’s Powerball jackpot.

She said that many people have been in the shop to purchase tickets, and she believes the West Virginia Strawberry Festival has driven up ticket sales for the store located just off the U.S. 33 corridor. Many people who have traveled in from out of town have purchased their tickets while in Buckhannon for the festival, Hannah said.

Many ticket purchasers, like Hannah, already are starting to think about what they would do if they won all that money. Hannah’s idea is not unique. Bernard Lloyd of Buckhannon, who purchased his ticket at Fast Stop, said that if he won, it was a “ticket to get the hell outta here.”

Lloyd said it was four or more years ago that anyone from West Virginia ever won the West Virginia Lottery. He called West Virginia, “the donating state,” because he said he believed that the more local lottery players’ ticket purchases only help to win millions for someone outside of West Virginia.

With multiple ticket purchasers throughout 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the odds of winning are higher than 1 in a million. Still, thousands of people are flocking to lottery retailers to take that small chance at winning. Many seem to agree that a small chance is better than none, and many people who buy a ticket seem to have a dream for that illusive multimillion dollar payout.

“I’d take care of my family and all the people that were there for me before I became loaded,” Joshua White of Buckhannon said when he purchased his ticket at Fast Stop.

Strong ticket sales have driven the Powerball jackpot up to $550 million for the drawing, according to media information from West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave. That’s not even the largest amount the jackpot has ever been. According to information provided to media outlets, the Powerball hit a record in November 2012 with a $587.5 million prize. The Mega Millions payout that year was up to $656 million in March. Ticket purchases were on the rise after no one reportedly matched the numbers drawn for the $360 million dollar jackpot on Wednesday.

Whether a ticket hits the jackpot or not, smaller prizes as large as $1 or $2 million could still be won by playing the lottery. There were some small winners from Wednesday’s drawing. According to information submitted to media outlets, people in 16 states won $1 million, and people in two states won a $2 million prize. Most ticket sales end between 9 and 10 p.m. today. It is best to check with a local lottery retailer for cut-off times.

Chuck Strutt, the executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, told media outlets that Powerball was redesigned so that larger jackpots occurred more frequently. He also said that it was redesigned to make more people into millionaires, and that he believes the Powerball lottery has succeeded at both levels. Ticket prices were also increased from $1 to $2.

Hannah said one person at Fast Stop bought $60 worth of Powerball tickets and $40 worth of Mega Millions tickets. Those who cannot watch the live drawing may check for the winning numbers on

“I hope I win,” Jim Robinette of Cherry Port said when he bought his ticket at Buckhannon Go-Mart. “I’d go overseas again, and I wouldn’t be fighting anybody.”