500 million reasons to take a chance

Powerball frenzy hits St. Croix Valley as jackpot grows

With an estimated $500 million record jackpot on the line for tonight’s Powerball drawing, Minnesotans have ramped up their ticket purchases hoping for a chance to become an instant multi-millionaire.

“We’ve been seeing brisk sales and I think we’ll be very busy today, especially during the morning time when people stop in to get their coffee and donut on the way to work, and when people are on their way home and stop in for gas.” said Minnesota State Lottery spokesperson Debbie Hoffmann.

“What we’re showing is that ticket sales in Minnesota are expected to top $10 million which is a new record,” she added.

If a Powerball winner selects their payout in annual installments, they’ll start with an estimated $8.9 million the first year and payouts will grow after that. The estimated cash option has also been raised to a new record of $327 million. A Powerball winner would receive a check for $221.5 million after taxes.

St. Croix Valley vendors are feeling the Powerball frenzy, too.

“We’ve been having all kinds of people coming in and taking their chances at winning it,” said Michelle Baker of the Stillwater Kwik Trip store on Settlers Way.  “A lot of people are picking tickets up in addition to their purchase. But we’re also seeing a lot of people come in that we wouldn’t normally see.”

Heather, an employee at Super America in Oak Park Heights who only gave her first name, said Powerball tickets were selling well there, too.

With so many tickets being purchased, it could lessen the odds of winning the jackpot, but Hoffmann believes that that’s not the main reason people purchase Powerball tickets.

“What I think people are really interested in is that for $2 they can talk with people in their office or at the cafeteria about what they’d do if they won,” Hoffmann said. “I think it gives people the opportunity to think about what $500 million would mean to them.”

Despite the opportunity to dream the Minnesota State Lottery says it’s important that people play responsibly. Powerball tickets will be sold at local vendors until 9 p.m. tonight. By 10 p.m., today, someone who purchased a ticket might be $500 million richer.