The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history took another bump Friday to total $800 million, more than three-quarters of a billion dollars for the grand prize in Saturday’s Powerball game.
And that latest bump has spurred Long Islanders to flock to local retailers for their shot at a dream.
No winning ticket was sold for Wednesday’s half-billion-dollar jackpot and better-than-average sales have pushed the jackpot to its current value. Business owners said they’re seeing customers line up to buy tickets, and some shops have decked out their windows with Powerball signs, both homemade and official advertisements.
Melville resident Noelle Dunne buys two Powerball tickets every week — $4 worth.
But when she heard the jackpot had risen to an all-time high Friday, she stepped up her investment to $10.
“Hopefully one day I’ll hit it,” Dunne, 53, said.
Initially, the grand prize after Wednesday’s drawing climbed to $675 million, surpassing the previous all-time prize of $656 million for a 2012 Mega Millions game.
It then got another bump on Thursday, to $700 million, before growing again early Friday.
“Nobody’s hit it, but maybe tomorrow,” said Jue Li, a cashier at Home Goods and Discount Store in Farmingdale. “With this amount of sales, somebody is going to hit it.”
Donna Mears, owner of All the Write Stuff and More, a gift and stationery store in Melville, said customers had been buying tickets almost constantly, sometimes hundreds of dollars’ worth a time. A steady stream of customers stood at the counter, looking to buy tickets, on Friday night.
She’s purchased only one ticket, and, if she wins, she said she’d take a vacation and put some of the money back into her business.
“If you’re going to win, you’re going to win. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” she said. “I’d give everyone raises. There’s so much good you can do with that kind of money.”
Robert Degirmenci, manager at a Mobil gas station on Route 110 in Farmingdale, said business had increased at least twentyfold.
“It’s kind of unusual for it to be so high, I’m surprised no one has hit it yet,” Degirmenci said. “It’s been nice to bring in the customers.”
The jackpot has been growing since Nov. 7, when it started out at $40 million. Can it grow to $1 billion?
A Powerball spokeswoman said Thursday that it’s unlikely, but . . . “Given that we are in uncharted territory, we are keeping an eye on sales . . . and will adjust the jackpot accordingly,” spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said.
Saturday’s Powerball prize is worth a lump-sum payment of $496 million. After taxes and withholding, that works out to a Long Island or upstate New York winner taking home $328.2 million and a New York City winner pocketing $309 million, according to Carolyn Hapeman of the New York Lottery.
The chances of winning? One in 292,201,338. But that hasn’t deterred Degirmenci, who has bought a few tickets.
“The $2 is worth the dream,” he said.