Stores seeing ticket-buying frenzy ahead of historic Powerball drawing

SENATH, MO (KAIT) – Millions of people are holding out hope to become a multi-millionaire after the largest Powerball drawing ever Wednesday night.

The Powerball jackpot rose to $550 million, driving up ticket sales at local stores just hours before the numbers were drawn.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery estimates that stores made more than $1.2 million in Powerball sales by Wednesday afternoon alone.

With more tickets in play, the odds of winning are about one-in-175 million, though that hardly stopped many from spending a few dollars to buy a ticket or two.

The cashiers at Casey's General Store in Senath, Mo., wished a lot of their customers good luck Wednesday after seeing about every other person buy a Powerball ticket.

"People have been buying like $10 and $20 worth (of tickets) since 6:00 this morning since I got here," said cashier Samantha Hobbs.

Hobbs says that almost every other customer bought a few Powerball tickets, hoping to win the second highest lottery jackpot in history.

"You know, there's more chances to get hit by a meteor than to win this," said Sean Winkle of Senath, "but, if you don't play, but you can't win."

That philosophy drove many to try and score the winning combination of numbers, including grandmother of five Sharon Hardin.

Hardin bought two cards, filling out one with her grandchildren's ages to feel luckier.

"I could possibly be (the winner)," she said. "I feel like I am, or I wouldn't have bought this ticket. This is four dollars, you know. I don't just throw that away."

Across the border, stores in Arkansas saw a spike in lottery ticket sales too.

The Holiday Liquor Store in Paragould even had its lottery ticket machine freeze Tuesday night because of the overwhelming frequency of purchases.

"Last March, whenever the Mega Millions was up really, really high, we saw a huge increase in business," said Caitlin Garner, the liquor store's promotional manager. "This has been identical, really."

Garner says the store sold Powerball tickets to about one in three customers, including Marlan Walton.

"I could think of a lot of people that I could help," said Walton, who bought three tickets. "There's a lot of people in my life that have helped me and have done some good things for me, and I'd like to be able to do some good things for them."

No matter their reason for playing, millions undoubtedly tuned in Wednesday night to find out if their ticket contained the winning numbers.

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