Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

As Jackpot Grows, Odds Stay Long

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

As Jackpot Grows, Odds Stay Long

Article excerpt

Inside Eagle Liquors in Passaic, where a $383 million lottery ticket was sold in 2013, an arrow-shaped sign that was once gold- colored but is now fringed in tarnished brown hangs from the ceiling, pointing toward the lottery machine.

"Playing here may cause your dreams to come true," advise block letters at the top of the sign.

That's the slogan for the New Jersey Lottery, which is participating in a 44-state Powerball game with the largest jackpot in U.S. history: By Thursday evening, the top prize was climbing toward $700 million, easily surpassing the prior record of $656 million in a March 2012 Mega Millions drawing.

As it stands, the odds of claiming that jackpot are 1 in 292,201,388 for each $2 ticket. But late in the afternoon on Thursday, people began to stream into the liquor store. They were aiming to buy one or two more chances at that big prize, and all the dreams it would fulfill.

"I'm going to buy my mom a mansion," said 21-year-old Baxtar Rice. "And I'm going to put my daughter in school, so she'll have a future."

And never mind that Rice's daughter is still just 3 years old.

On Wednesday, Eagle Liquors sold 3,384 tickets, which were all duds. But as of 4:30 p.m., on Thursday, the store had sold 275 tickets more, and counting.

Pravin Mankodia, the cashier, said the busiest time for ticket sales is after 6 p.m. and on the day of a drawing, and it continues until closing.

Dan Sudol, 73, is an Air Force veteran who has every confidence that he will live to be 100. His dream is small: He just wants $50 million, enough, in his estimate, to buy a house in the country and provide a million dollars a year, which will replace his Social Security checks and the $16 a month he receives in food stamps.

The rest? He'll give it away.

"There's a lot of people that need help, you know?" he said.

Oddball odds

To put the game's odds into perspective, it's almost even money that someone will win $100 in the Powerball (1 in 36,525) or get killed by "contact with a sharp object" (1 in 37,351), according to National Safety Council statistics. …

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