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Area lottery players dream of hitting Powerball jackpot

POSTED: August 8, 2013 12:08 a.m.

Most people can only dream of watching a lottery drawing and seeing all the numbers they have on their ticket come out of the tumbler and onto the television screen, signaling they have won a megajackpot.

Like many people across the U.S., residents of Gainesville were hoping to make that dream come true and capture the estimated $448 million Powerball jackpot on Wednesday.

“I’m just taking a chance. Sometimes you have to take a chance when (the jackpot) is big like this,” said Gainesville resident and Powerball player Lewis Newton. “If I hit the jackpot, I would take care of all my important issues at this moment.

“I would take the time to also think about the future use of the money. ... I’ve played before when (the jackpot) has been big like this and never won, but I think it would be crazy to think about winning this. A lot of people around me would benefit from this.”

A recent game change intended to build excitement about the lottery increased the frequency of huge jackpots, and this drawing comes only a few months after the biggest Powerball jackpot in history — a $590 million pot won in Florida by an 84-year-old widow. The second-largest Powerball jackpot was won in November and split between two tickets from Arizona and Missouri.

With a majority of the top 10 Powerball jackpots being reached in the last five years, lottery officials acknowledge smaller jackpots don’t create the buzz they once did.

“We certainly do see what we call jackpot fatigue,” said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. “I’ve been around a long time, and remember when a $10 million jackpot in Illinois brought long lines and people from surrounding states to play that game.”

This jackpot was the third largest in Powerball history.

Nathalie Heil, a local teacher, said she and nine of her co-workers were looking to hit it big and change their fortunes.

“Tomorrow morning, if we win, we’re calling our principal and saying, ‘good luck,’” she said, laughing.

Kelsey Greene, a first-time Powerball player, said she normally isn’t one to bet or even play the lottery, but said she thought it would be fun to take a chance and see what happens.

“When I was little, I always liked watching the balls bounce around and trying to guess which number would come out,” she said. “It would be pretty exciting (to win), but I’m not much for money.

“I’d place 10 percent (of the winnings) for savings and 10 percent for offering at the church. The rest would go for my college. ... And maybe 5 percent would go towards fun money.”

Petrofast convenience store clerk Kristen Down said a lot of people were coming in to buy their tickets. She said she hoped one of the store’s frequent patrons would take home the jackpot.

“I don’t buy lottery tickets,” Down said. “To me, my only claim to fame would be selling (the winning) ticket. That would be pretty cool. But I would hope it would go to a regular (customer) since they’re in here every day. It always seems like it’s a stranger that ends up winning.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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