BY BRYNA ZUMER, firstname.lastname@example.org
4:06 PM EDT, August 6, 2013
It could be anyone's lucky day.
That's what plenty of Maryland Lottery ticket buyers have been hoping, as they drive up ticket sales waiting on a Powerball estimated at $425 million.
Harford County has seen a spike in lottery purchases as the unusually large jackpot drawing approaches.
They won't have to wait long. The next drawing is Wednesday, which means even more Harford residents are expected to stop by liquor stores, supermarkets and other lottery outlets around the region to make their last-minute ticket purchases.
The interest this time does not seem as big as on previous occasions when Powerball jackpots have been even higher, such as the time it was up to $600 million, said Al Patel, co-owner of Campus Liquors in Bel Air.
"That was really crazy," he noted.
But stores have nevertheless been seeing a steady stream of ticket-buyers.
Patel said any time the jackpot is more than $200 million, more people play.
"We definitely get more traffic when Powerball is up," he said on Tuesday, the day before the drawing.
"Even $100 [million] is big," he said.
Other stores also reported increased sales in the days leading up to the drawing.
Xtra convenience store, in Churchville, was seeing triple its usual lottery sales, manager David Hubbard said Tuesday.
He had only been at the store for a few months, but said lottery tickets have been selling well lately.
"Probably since it hit $300 [million], that's when it usually spikes," Hubbard said.
Bibin Patel, manager of 7-Eleven on Route 40 in Abingdon, said his location has seen about 30 percent more business since the Powerball jackpot increased to an unusually high level. Business has been up by roughly $2,000 or $3,000 on a given weekday.
Although sales of lottery tickets appear to be selling at lower rates than in the lead up to other big jackpot drawings, "it seems to be more customer excitement now," Bibin Patel said.
As far as business, "It helped, but not like it used to. But it's good, having a big Powerball," he said.
He noted some people just decide to take a chance on the lottery when they hear how high the jackpot is.
The Powerball tickets are $2 a pop, and some people have been buying up multiples while others just go with a modest single ticket.
George Rupprecht, of Bel Air, was one of those buying a ticket on a whim.
Rupprecht had stopped by ShopRite, on Bel Air's Main Street, for a pastry Tuesday and decided to pick up a lottery ticket when he saw it was in the $400 million range.
Later that afternoon, the Maryland Lottery announced the Powerball jackpot would be even bigger, hitting $425 million.
It had shot up from just $235 million on July 29.
Rupprecht said he buys a lottery ticket four or five times a year, "when it's really high."
"I have visions just like everyone else," he said of his hopes of actually winning the jackpot. "I need to help my grandchildren."
Asked what he would do if he really won, Rupprecht sounded pragmatic.
"I guess the correct thing to say is to give it away," he said, adding: "If I die rich, I would be mad."
He was not overly optimistic about winning – "it's a better chance that I would get hit by lightning twice" – but also thought maybe luck was on his side because he had just been photographed by The Aegis.
"I'm due," he said jokingly.