Thousands cross state line for game of chancel

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

Cashier Molly Shields rings up a lottery ticket for Laura and Chip Sarver of Jackson Friday night at Interstate Chevron No. 7 in Delta. The Powerball numbers will be drawn tonight at 10 in Baton Rouge and could produce a winner of more than $280 million.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[8/25/01] Rusty “Clutch” Jones wants to take a cruise, and he doesn’t want it to be one of the Carribean jaunts he sees advertised all the time.

He wants to take a luxury liner to Japan and see the Pacific, “a whole lot of water,” as he calls the world’s largest ocean.

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Jones, of Jackson, will get to go on his dream trip if the six Powerball lottery numbers he picked at The World in Delta Friday match the ones picked in a drawing in Baton Rouge tonight.

The Powerball jackpot stands at $280 million, enough money to send thousands of Mississippians across the state line Friday evening to participate. Thousands more were expected to make the drive today to Louisiana, one of 20 states where gamblers can buy the lottery tickets.

While other outlets did not disclose how many tickets they sold Friday, a spokesman for Daiquiri World said the Highway 80 bar had sold 2,527 by evening.

The odds of winning are extraordinarily high a $1 ticket stands an 80.1 million-to-one chance.

But that didn’t deter gamblers like Jones.

“My dad always told me, A man who’s afraid to gamble will never win, and a man who’s afraid to die will never live,'” said Jones, who said he’s participated in the Louisiana Lottery for years. “I gamble and I live.”

Jones’ fellow gamblers crowded the bars and convenience stores of Delta, a village of hundreds just across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg.

The line at Interstate Chevron No. 7 in Delta snaked out the front door, and deputies from the Madison Parish Sheriff’s Department had to direct the traffic that descended on the village.

“There were 40 people lined up when I got to work at 6 this morning,” said Toshiba Bell, a cashier at Interstate.

“I wish someone would hit the jackpot so it would stop being this crazy,” said Carrie Hollingsworth, another Interstate cashier.

The lines at Daiquiri World, P.J.’s and The World were smaller but just as steady, cashiers at those places said.

“We might not have many people now, but they haven’t stopped coming in all day,” said Jarbo Wall, Daiquiri World manager.

The gamblers were marked by their diversity. They came to Delta wearing business suits and work clothes, driving Jaguars and motorcycles.

And most of them had dreams, however vague, of what they would do with $280 million.

“I’m going to tear down my old house and build a new one with maids and butlers, everything,” said Melanie Jackson of Clinton, a first-time Powerball player.

Isaiah Burns, a sawmill worker from Yazoo City, said he’d keep his house, albeit after he fixed it up.

“It’s sliding now, and I guess all this money could help me with that,” he said.

James Stokes, a welder from Vicksburg, said he’d never work again.

“I’m just going to chill out,” Stokes said.