Carolinas residents appear to be doing their best to grab a piece of the $550 million jackpot up for grabs in tonight’s Powerball lottery drawing.
Clerks report a steady stream of customers Wednesday morning and afternoon across the Charlotte region, with people hoping their $2 Powerball ticket will make them rich.
“Usually, I come in here for gas, and then maybe get a lottery ticket,” one man said Wednesday morning at a convenience store on East Independence Boulevard in Stallings. “Today it’s the reverse. I’m here for a Powerball ticket -- and maybe I’ll get some gas.”
Powerball officials say they expect to sell an average of 105,000 tickets a minute Wednesday in advance of the 11 p.m. drawing.
The jackpot had been estimated Wednesday morning at $500 million, but the crush of ticket-selling pushed the total up another $50 million by midday.
It is the second-largest lottery drawing in U.S. history, exceeded only by the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March. There hasn’t been a winning Powerball ticket drawn since Oct. 6 -- 16 consecutive drawings.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
The Powerball jackpot had been estimated at $425 million Tuesday, but it grew overnight as strong sales continued. There are reports of customers buying several hundred dollars’ worth of tickets at a time.
On Tuesday, one customer told WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner, that he would help his family if he won. Marquise Hilton had stopped at Lottery Mart, on West Sugar Creek Road, for Powerball tickets.
“Like I told everyone, if I won or came into money, I’d buy my grandmother’s house for her,” he told NBC Charlotte. “To know you’d be secure, and everyone around you would be secure, everyone wants that.”
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