On Halloween, people showed up at stores, grocery stores and gas stations across the country hoping to find their very own treat: a chance to win the massive $1 billion Powerball jackpot.
Among them was Janice Turner, one of a steady stream of people — some in costume — buying Powerball tickets at an outdoor kiosk in midtown Manhattan.
“I hope to be the next billionaire,” Turner said. “I think it’s going to be a happy Halloween.”
In the same line was Scott Hennion, who was already making plans to win the jackpot.
“I’m definitely going to retire, finish my house, maybe buy another house, maybe buy a couple of nice cars, go on a nice vacation,” he said. “And then I’ll probably set up all my friends and family for the rest of my life and travel the world, you know, do whatever I want.”
In Houston, Candy Dumas, 60, a real estate agent, said she came to the Super K grocery store because of the high payout.
“If I’m lucky tonight, the first thing I’m going to do is give a little to my church,” Dumas said. “The second is to buy a house for the children. This is what I want to do to help my family for sure.”
Guru Reddy, a sales clerk at the store, said people come from far and wide to the store because it has a history of selling big jackpot winners and people like to dream of expensive things they can’t afford.
Dozens of people, including Aurelia Pearson, lined up Monday to buy tickets at Bluebird Liquor Store in Hawthorne, Calif., which also has a reputation as a lucky shop.
“It’s a good place to come,” Pearson said. “And if it’s a good place, you have to come and play and think about it and be positive and things will happen for you.”
And Sally Tanner said she will give away a significant portion of her winnings after she buys a house and pays for her son’s college expenses.
“We’re in a recession right now,” Tanner said. “The economy sucks, so I’d be a giver. I’m a gift giver, but I’ll leave it to us. I guess my cup will be full, but when it overflows, I will bless others.”
The jackpot has grown dramatically after no one matched all six numbers in Saturday night’s drawing. It is the fifth largest lottery jackpot in US history. The biggest prize was the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot won by three ticket holders in 2016.
Since August 3rd, no one has hit all six numbers, indicating just how slim the odds of winning the jackpot are: 1 in 292.2 million.
Monday’s big jackpot came less than two years after another lottery hit the $1 billion mark. The ticket matches all six numbers drawn on January 22, 2021 in the Mega Millions lottery to win the $1.05 billion jackpot.
Massive lottery jackpots have become more common in recent years as lottery officials have adjusted game rules and ticket prices to increase top prizes. The latest tweak was made in August, when Powerball officials added an extra drawing day — going from two drawings a week to three — in an effort to collect bigger prizes and boost sales.
Although the odds of winning are slim, the chances of someone – or even several players – coming up with the winning numbers are increasing. This is because as the jackpot grows, more people are going to play.
The $1 billion prize is for winners who choose to receive the entire amount in installments over 29 annual payments. Almost all winners choose the smaller cash payout, which for Monday’s drawing will be approximately $497.3 million.
If the winning ticket matches the drawing, the Powerball jackpot starts over at $20 million and continues to grow with each drawing until it is won.
Powerball is played in 45 states as well as Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Associated Press video reporter David M. Martin contributed to this report from New York. Associated Press video reporter Lekan Oyekanmi contributed to this report from Houston. Associated Press videographer Eugene Garcia contributed from California.