PARKERSBURG - As the Powerball lottery rises toward another record-breaking jackpot, ticket sales have grown locally, throughout West Virginia and across the country where Powerball tickets are sold.
In Charleston, West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave said sales for Saturday's drawing topped $1 million in West Virginia and lottery officials expect strong sales again for tonight's drawing.
The jackpot was first posted at $425 million and was revised upward to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout for tonight's drawing.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Chana Traugh, at the Staunton Avenue Kompak store in Parkersburg, reported increased local sales of Powerball lottery tickets in anticipation of tonight’s record-breaking jackpot.
Eight Powerball players in West Virginia have won jackpots. They include Jack Whittaker, who won a $314.9 million jackpot in 2002, and Randy Smith, who won a $79 million prize in 2010.
Since the beginning of 2012, the cost of an individual Powerball ticket has been $2 each, compared to the $1 per ticket cost since the lottery's inception.
In Parkersburg, Cynthia Starcher, manager of Peoples News on Blizzard Drive, said employees have seen a definite increase in interest in the lottery and in Powerball ticket sales due to the jackpot, especially in the last week.
"There's been a bigger jump in the last week," she said, as the Powerball jackpot has grown.
The Peoples News location in south Parkersburg usually sells single tickets during times when the jackpot is closer to normal, but Starcher said she has been seeing a lot more people buying multiple tickets, usually from five to 10 at a time, as people come in throughout the day.
"They want the more chances to win," she said.
Chana Traugh, at the Kompak store on Staunton Avenue, said store employees have seen an increasing number of lottery purchases in the last week or two.
"We've sold a lot more since the record-breaking $500 million jackpot," she said Tuesday afternoon, adding people are buying groups of tickets ranging from $10 to $20 to $50 worth.
Nationally, this year's increase in ticket prices caused an initial drop in the number of tickets sold, but since that time sales revenue has increased by 35 percent over 2011.
Sales for Powerball reached a record $3.96 billion in fiscal 2012 and are expected to reach $5 billion this year, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs the Powerball game.
There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot has reached a record level for the game. It was first posted at $425 million but revised upward to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout.
It's the second highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.
Of the $2 cost of a Powerball ticket, $1 goes to the prizes and the other dollar is kept by each state's lottery organization. After administrative overhead is paid, the remaining amount goes to that state's beneficiary programs.
Some states designate specific expenditures such as education, while others deposit the money in their general fund to help supplement tax revenue.