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Free tickets
•Beginning at 6 a.m. today, the Hoosier Lottery will give one free Powerball ticket to the first 425 players who visit Ricker’s at 5823 Coldwater Road. Players must be 18 years or older to participate. Tickets are valued at $2 each.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Kathy Saylor buys Powerball tickets from cashier Garry Singh at the Shell station at State and Maplecrest.
$500 million up for grabs tonight

Powerball surge hits stores

Giant jackpot entices many to pick up tickets on a whim

Nicholas Atkins buys a ticket from Jasmine Howard at the BP at Crescent and North Anthony.

– Whether you’re a ticket-buying regular or just feeling lucky, there’s still time today to jump on the Powerball bandwagon in hopes of snagging the winning ticket.

Tonight’s drawing – at 10:59 – for $500 million is the biggest Powerball jackpot ever and the second-largest lottery payout ever in the U.S., according to the Hoosier Lottery. The largest, a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, was won by three ticket-holders in March.

At noon Tuesday, the estimated jackpot jumped from $425 million to $500 million, prompting many Fort Wayne residents to stop by local gas stations and stores to pick up a ticket.

The increase was due to “robust sales nationwide,” the Hoosier Lottery said.

Across the city Tuesday afternoon, gas stations reported seeing dozens of people stopping by, some spending $10, $20 or more, with fingers crossed that the prize would be theirs.

“We’ve been busy all day with people coming in,” said Jasmine Howard, who works at the BP gas station on Crescent Avenue.

Although Howard said the store won’t know an official ticket sales count until today, Tuesday’s sales had been impressive.

“I had one lady in here that spent $15, including Power Play” (which multiplies winnings), Howard said. “That’s been the biggest one so far.”

For Kathy Saylor, the decision to buy a lottery ticket for tonight’s drawing was a last-minute purchase. The Fort Wayne woman, who stopped by the Shell station at East State Boulevard and Maplecrest Road to pick up a few items Tuesday afternoon, decided to try her luck.

She bought 10 tickets, spending a total of $20.

That $20 won’t be missed too much if she wins the big one, Saylor said.

“I play maybe three times a year, so I spent the whole budget on this one,” she said.

If she wins, Saylor said she would have to take 30 days to come back to reality before she’d spend any money.

“I wouldn’t want to go spending it right away. I would want to take some time to think about it,” she said.

But first on the list would be loading up the family for a two-week trip to Disney World, she said.

Standing behind Saylor in line was Fort Wayne resident Clyde Shields, who pulled two dollar bills from his wallet and handed it to the man at the register.

Shields said he hadn’t planned to buy a ticket, but with the possibility of winning big, it was too hard to pass up a $2 ticket.

jcrothers@jg.net

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