- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Residents of Maryland and Virginia are pouring into the District by the carload, waving dollar bills and buying up Powerball tickets in hopes of winning tonight's nearly $200 million jackpot.
The drawing for the multistate lottery is set for 10:59 p.m. EST in Des Moines, Iowa, and dreamers from all over the region are crowding into D.C. stores for a chance to hit the big one. It's a windfall for the District, because Maryland and Virginia aren't among the 22 states that participate.
The winner of the jackpot can choose to take $110.1 million in cash before taxes in a lump sum, or $8 million annually for 25 years.
"I'll take a big sum. I don't know how long I'll be here," said 75-year-old Floyd Davis, who came from Brentwood to get his tickets at Shell Food Mart at the end of South Dakota Avenue in Northeast.
Shell Food Mart dispensed a winning $100,000 ticket a couple years ago, said owner Jay Akhtar, adding that "a lot more than usual" were buying tickets yesterday and they included a lot of "new faces."
At least the weather was favorable for Powerball players in the Washington metropolitan area yesterday.
In Greenwich, Conn., 81-year-old Jeremiah Drake patiently drove through three hours of gridlock from New York City and stood in the heat of the day for an hour behind yellow police tape before he could plunk down $125 for Powerball tickets.
Asked if it was worth it, Mr. Drake said, "We don't know yet."
In the District, Powerball ticket buyers were advised not to go overboard.
"You've got a better chance of getting struck by lightning on a sunny day," said D.C. Lottery spokesman Bob Hainey. "This is a fun investment, not a financial investment."
Ticket sales are expected to skyrocket today, but the 470 D.C. lottery sales outlets reported sales were brisk yesterday, too.
"We've seen close to a tenfold jump in our daily sales," Mr. Hainey said.
D.C. lottery sales agents had nothing on a convenience store, La Tienda, in Franklin, Idaho, where buyers were lined up out the door. Store manager K. C. Spackman said, "They're spending $100 a shot."
And, most of them were from Utah, which has no state lottery.
Borderline Lotto & Gallery in Colorado, 80 miles north of Denver, reported Wyoming residents have Powerball fever, too.
"I'm swamped," said cashier Tessau Gonzalez. "We're going crazy. We just keep running the machines."
One daily buyer is Steve Roesel, 41, a medically retired Marine who drives 15 miles from Wyoming daily. Undeterred by the 100-million-to-one odds against winning, he said, "You don't need to win the grand prize. A couple weeks ago, a person hit $100,000."
Business was about "usual" yesterday at Key Bridge News, the D.C. lottery vendor nearest to Virginia, just across Francis Scott Key Bridge on M Street in Georgetown, said store owner Simon Yi, 37.
"They come over and, obviously, it's the first store they hit," Mr. Yi said. "Wednesday morning, it'll get pretty messy. But nothing like a couple years ago, when it got to $300 million."
That jackpot really was $295.7 million in 1998. But it caused Connecticut to pass a law allowing towns to ask the lottery to suspend Powerball sales for 24 hours if a huge influx of players threatened public health and safety. However, that law expired last year and Greenwich was overwhelmed yesterday.
"When the jackpot numbers get this high, it brings out everybody," said Tom Heier, 53, who drove from his home in Landover Hills to Sammy's Liquor store on the corner of Bladensburg Road and South Dakota Avenue NE.
With him was a neighbor, Donald Atwood, 66, who said he comes into the District for a Powerball ticket only when the jackpot gets big — and he was looking forward to spending whatever his $10 worth of tickets might win.
Powerball tickets for tonight's drawing will be sold in the District until 8:58 p.m. Mr. Hainey said tickets purchased after that deadline will be qualified only for the Powerball drawing Saturday night.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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