By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
An unknown WyoLotto player in Buffalo won $150,000 in Saturday’s Powerball drawing by matching four of five numbers and taking the Power Play, but an overall winner was not drawn.
That pushes the next Powerball jackpot at a cool $1.9 billion — yes billion with a ‘B’ — for those taking the annuity. The next drawing is Monday night.
It’s a record, and from Oct. 30 through Nov. 5, the huge Powerball jackpot has pulled more than $2.3 million in ticket sales from convenience and liquor stores across Wyoming. Average ticket sales, by comparison, are $154,000 per week, WyoLotto spokeswoman Ashley Pexton told Cowboy State Daily in an email.
Some of those ticket sales are Utah residents who cannot buy Powerball tickets in their state. A lot of those ticket sales happen in Uinta County, which has reported $990,912 in sales Oct. 30 through Nov. 5.
Ticket sales were brisk throughout Wyoming on Monday and appeared to be trending more quickly now that the lottery has ballooned to such a huge jackpot.
Will Cramer, owner of the Rodeo West Exxon in Cody, told Cowboy State Daily his ticket sales Monday are about double what he usually sells. He’s had customers buying a ticket every other minute or so.
He bought five tickets himself, and like most plyers, doesn’t expect to win.
But Cramer already has some ideas what he’d do if he does.
“I would make a lot of improvements to the store, and we’ll keep the store going,” he said. “I’d buy a vacation home. I don’t have a lot of thoughts beyond that, but I would definitely give to charities and, you know, take care of my employees and family.”
So, You’re Telling Us There’s A Chance …
The odds of winning the jackpot are beyond miniscule at a chance of 1 in 292.2 million for each ticket, Pexton said.
Or, as Kim Bo of Gillette says in a post on the WyoLotto Facebook page, “You got a better chance of getting hit in the head by a meteorite.”
On the other hand, as Pat Colgan of Cheyenne put it to Cowboy State Daily, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
Colgan bought six tickets at Town and Country Supermarket Liquors on Monday morning, a spur-of-the-moment decision.
He told Cowboy State Daily he would try to keep it a big secret if he were to score the jackpot.
Not that he’s expecting to win.
“I don’t have any idea what I’d do with the money,” he said with a shrug. “I haven’t thought about it.”
Buying In Bulk
Chatima Hughes, on the other hand, has a long list of things she would do with her slice of the jackpot if her office pool wins.
“I’d buy a bigger house, get out of debt and set up our kids for life,” she said. “Hopefully, hopefully, we’ll be able to bring it to fruition.”
Hughes bought 138 Powerball tickets for her office pool during a lunch break at a Maverik Adventure’s First Stop in Cheyenne on Monday. Each person in the pool chipped in $10 for the bulk buy.
The consensus of Hughes’ office pool is that they would want a lump-sum payout rather than an annuity. That would slice a significant chunk of change out of the jackpot, which is only $1.9 billion for those taking the annuity.
‘Better Than A Stick In The Eye’
The cash value of the prize is $929.1 million as a lump sum, Pexton said. That’s before Uncle Sam takes his share of federal and/or jurisdictional taxes.
It’s still a healthy sum for each person in the pool, Hughes pointed out.
“It’s better than a stick in the eye,” she said.
As far as how the group would accept the prize if it wins, Hughes said no one has really thought about that yet. It’s a bridge to cross if and when they are so lucky.
“I know that they’re looking forward to hopefully being the big winner,” she said while acknowledging the odds are not necessarily in their favor despite a rather large purchase of tickets.
“I think the odds are probably still 230 out of 3 million or so,” she said.
Hughes, Colgan and Cramer all confirmed they don’t normally play the lottery.
“Unless the pot gets really big,” Hughes said. “Then I go in with a bunch of friends.”
Powerball tickets are $2 each, plus $1 if you buy the Power Play. The tickets must be paid for with cold hard cash. No checks or debit cards allowed, per state statue.
Should you buy a winning ticket, it’s important to keep the physical ticket even if you are using the mobile App to “save” your ticket. The physical ticket must be scanned at either a WyoLotto retailer or the WyoLotto Headquarters.
Powerball is not the only jackpot that’s high. Mega Millions has reached $154 million and Wyoming’s own Cowboy Draw is at an estimated $1.15 million payout. There’a also Keno, which offers up to $200,000, and 2by2 is $22,000 or double that on Tuesday. Lucky for Life participants, meanwhile, can win $1,000 every day for life.
The Wyoming Lottery was established in 2014 to generate revenue for the state. It has since generated more than $28.29 million since then to the state, which then distributes the money to Wyoming cities, towns and counties as unrestricted funds. The October distribution was $1.412 million.