PICKENS COUNTY — With the Powerball Jackpot estimated to reach $1.4 billion for Wednesday night’s drawing, lotto fever has struck the Upstate.
“It’s been insane,” said Jennie Cartlidge, assistant manager at the Hot Spot in downtown Easley. “Our online lotto sales are over $4,000 so far. This time last week? They were $397.50 — total. That’s just crazy.”
Cartlidge had to rig up the store’s display sign so it would even show the proper amount.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a ‘B’ to make it read ‘billions’ instead of ‘millions.’ I also had to tape up a 1 to make it look like a decimal,” she said and laughed.
“It’s not just the regular players. It seems like everyone is buying tickets. A lot of them want to pick their own numbers but they don’t know how it works or how to fill out their cards. It can make for long lines,” Cartlidge said. “But what are you going to do? It’s $1.4 billion. Of course you’re going to buy a ticket. I bought one and we have a pool at work here.”
In 2014, Americans spent over $70 billion on the lottery, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. To put that into perspective, NASA’s annual budget is around $17 billion.
According to the State Lottery Commission, the odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338 — rounded to two decimal places. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning — twice.
NBC Nightly News reported that a person would have a much greater chance of becoming a movie star (1 in 1,505,000) or being elected president of the United States (1 in 10 million) than winning the jackpot. And at those odds, shark attacks seem almost a certainty (1 in 11.5 million.)
So why do people bother?
Cartlidge shrugged. “Someone’s got to win,” she said.
Wednesday’s estimated $1.4 billion drawing is the highest jackpot offered in the game’s history.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.