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$425-million Powerball jackpot a hit in New York

For Jay Silverstein, investing $20 to play in Wednesday's Powerball drawing means the possibility of winning the $425 million jackpot and finally retiring after working for several decades.

"It's a couple of dollars and a dream," said watch engineer Silverstein, 71, of Farmingdale, who said his plan, should he win, is to buy a villa in Costa Rica and hire a chef. "That's all it comes down to."

Lottery officials said the top prize for the Powerball drawing will be a record $425 million or more, after no one won the $325 million jackpot Saturday.

The Powerball numbers for Saturday were 22-32-37-44-50, and the Powerball was 34. That was the fourth-largest Powerball jackpot. Wednesday's drawing will mark the biggest in the game's history.

Lottery spokeswoman Christy Calicchia said Monday sales in New York have been brisk. Players have purchased $76.7 million worth of tickets -- about 10 percent of the sales nationwide -- since the jackpot opened at $40 million on Oct. 6.

Typically, New York accounts for about 7 percent to 8 percent of sales nationwide for Powerball, Calicchia said.

"That definitely will go up," she said of statewide sales. "It's only Monday, and the drawing is Wednesday."

Since Oct. 6, the jackpot has rolled over 15 times, including Saturday.

"It's a big jackpot," said bartender Gary Hertzberg, 37, of Holbrook, adding that he plans to buy a few tickets for Wednesday's game. "Plus, I hope to get back my $10 I lost from playing last week."

Lottery officials said the Wednesday total could go even higher than the estimated $425 million because sales tend to pick up before record drawings as people seek to win big.

"You got to be in it to win it," said Mary Burns, 53, of Melville, adding that if she won she would reconstruct homes for superstorm Sandy victims and take a trip to South Africa. "It's a chance."

A winner from Wednesday's drawing could choose a lump sum of $278.3 million or annuity payments for $425 million over 29 years after initial payment, said Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.

There were three New York second prize winners from Saturday night's drawing for matching the first five numbers, Hapeman said. One was a $2 million Powerball Power Play winning ticket bought at a 7-Eleven on 125 Crooked Hill Road in Brentwood. Two $1 million prizes were purchased in Manhattan -- one at a newsstand at 206 Varick St. and another at the International News and Magazine on 302 E. 86th St.

"Every penny helps in a small store," said Gary Dhindsa, owner of One Stop Cards & Convenience store on Main Street in Farmingdale, who welcomes the 6 percent return on each ticket sold, adding that lottery tickets make up more than 75 percent of his business.

The previous high for a Powerball jackpot was $365 million in 2006, won by eight workers from ConAgra Foods in Lincoln, Neb.

The record jackpot for a lottery game in the United States is $656 million in March for Mega Millions.

With Gary Dymski

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