Players head over the river for chance at possible $210M|[08/18/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Powerball jackpot could reach $210 million, and that had businesses in Louisiana hopping ahead of tonight’s drawing.

&#8220I sold 240 to one customer,” Sharon Merriett, an employee of Love’s Travel Stop in Tallulah, just off Interstate 20, said Friday afternoon. &#8220When it gets up like this, we sell a lot of them. I’ve sold 500 at one time.”

Most customers, Merriett said, purchase a handful of the $1 tickets, which must be bought by 9 tonight, ahead of the 10 p.m. drawing.

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&#8220When the rest of the customers see someone buying like that, it makes them more interested,” she said.

Nobody won Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot of $183.7 million.

Monty Valentine of Arcadia said he plays only when the payout exceeds $100 million.

&#8220It sounds ridiculous, but a million-dollar return on $1 isn’t too bad,” he said.

While Valentine didn’t mention any specific plans for the money if he wins, he did say he’d &#8220live like a king.”

One Powerball player who declined to give her name, however, knew exactly what she’d do. &#8220I’d like to see the world, travel to Rome and Paris, then get a new house.”

At the Delta Discount Store, also in Louisiana and just off Interstate 20, Vicksburg resident Tamonjia Gatson said, if she wins, she’ll opt for a one-time lump sum payment, rather than 30 payments over 29 years.

&#8220I’ll spilt the money,” among 20 family members, she said.

Powerball is a lotto game played in 29 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to Powerball, Louisiana has a state lottery. Mississippi has neither.

Drawings are every Wednesday and Saturday. To play, ticket holders must pick five numbers. Cash prizes are based on how many of the numbers chosen match the numbers drawn. The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in about 37.

Tickets that match the first five numbers but miss the Powerball win $200,000 each; 13 of those were sold in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Players will also be watching the Louisiana state lottery today.

The jackpot is expected to reach $425,000. No one claimed Wednesday’s grand prize of $400,000.

Drawings are each Wednesday and Saturday, except Christmas Day. Odds of winning are 1 in 30. The deadline to buy tickets is 9:30 p.m.

The Louisiana Lottery Corp. said Thursday that 16 Louisiana Lotto tickets had five of the six numbers drawn Wednesday and won $2,195, and another 680 had four of the numbers to win $53.