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As Powerball reaches massive jackpot, Virginians line up with hopes to get lucky

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 02, 2022

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A steady stream of customers stood in line at the Styles Bi-Rite gas station on Hull Street Rd. on Wednesday afternoon to buy their chance at winning Powerball's second-largest ever jackpot, an estimated $1.2 billion.

How many they bought covered a wide range.

"Just two tickets. If it's meant for you, it's meant for you," said Luther and Joyce Charity, who added they usually play when the jackpot reaches the $500 million mark and use their kids' birthdays for the numbers. And if they win? "Our plan is to, of course, pay our tithes to our church, take care of our family, pay off all our bills and disappear for six months.

Margeaux said she was also going the birthday route to pick her numbers.

"There's one I always pick. Has my other daughter's birthday in it. She passed away from cancer, so always try to put her birthday in there. And then, we're all born on the tenth. So, always use the number 10. My husband's born on the tenth, my daughter now is born on the tenth and I'm born on the tenth," she said, adding part of the winnings would go towards her daughter's tuition. "NYU costs a lot and there's no scholarships for my kid, she's a drama major. I'd like to go visit my home. Alaska. I was born in Anchorage. And I'd like to visit where my mother was born. She was born in Italy. And take care of my dad, he's 91."

Meanwhile, shortly before the Charitys and Margeaux had made their purchases, Christopher Wells bought $1,000 worth of tickets for a pool of people at his business, Trigger Happy Firearms.

"We all get together every time it's a big raffle. Get a big pool going, see if we can't become rich. If Tigger Happy is closed tomorrow, the winner was in here, I can promise you that," said Wells. Who, if they won, would have to choose between the jackpot paid out over 30 years or an estimated one-time payment of over $596 million. "I'm pretty sure we'd probably take the 600 and run. I think we'd take that."

Among those buying tickets were some first-timers as well.

"First time I've ever done it. Just something that made me buy it. I can't tell you what," said Walter, who said he intends to give "every damn bit of it away" if he wins. "I don't need it and I don't need friends I don't want. Plus, I want to live a long life. With that kind of money you ain't going to live long."

Virginia Lottery spokesperson John Hagerty said they expect to sell $6.3 million worth of tickets on Wednesday alone for the draw and at its peak, sales could exceed 6,300 tickets a minute.

"The odds of hitting the jackpot are very long. And we make no secret of that. So, of course, we want people to play responsibly. But potentially, the winning numbers could be any ticket because, of course, the numbers are printed on the ticket before the drawing is held. So potentially, it could happen anywhere, or it might not happen at all," said Hagerty, who added the odds are around one in 292 million. "But, it really only takes one ticket. And in the lottery world, there's only one sure thing and that is if you don't buy a ticket, the odds of winning are zero."

Hagerty said if you do happen to win the first thing to do is to sign the ticket and it is a legal document and that will establish your ownership of it.

"Then, we suggest people take some time, let the dust settle, take a deep breath, don't run out and do anything hasty. Get your financial team in order. That's very important. We're talking about a financial planner, a tax expert, a lawyer. When we're talking about this kind of money, the average person just doesn't have the training to go it alone," said Hagerty.

He added that people have 180 days to claim a winner and if it is over $10 million, they can do so anonymously.

He said that if no one wins on Wednesday's draw, the next Powerball will be an estimated $1.5 billion, which would still be short of the all-time record of $1.58 billion in 2016.

"And I also want to remind everyone that the profit from every Powerball ticket bought in Virginia benefits K-12 education in Virginia," said Hagerty. "That's why Virginia has a lottery, to benefit K-12 education. So, whether that ticket wins or loses, it does benefit education in the Commonwealth."

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