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Powerball: Jackpot hits $700 million — 2nd largest in U.S. history

Terry Patrani, of Nesconset, with a Powerball ticket

Terry Patrani, of Nesconset, with a Powerball ticket purchased at Nesconset Cards and Gifts on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

Vacations, school tuition, charity — Wednesday’s $700 million Powerball jackpot had Long Islanders dreaming big as they purchased tickets on Tuesday.

“It’s $2 and a dream,” said Angelina Rosario, 45, of Lake Grove. “Nobody can stop you from dreaming.”

The Powerball jackpot jumped to $700 million after no one won Saturday’s $541 million prize. It is the second largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history, according to lottery officials. Since June 10, no one has matched all six numbers — five white balls numbered 1 through 69 and one of 26 red Powerballs — to win the jackpot.

Rosario said she bought a few lottery tickets a week, though not usually for Powerball. When she heard the size of the jackpot, she drove to her local 7-Eleven in Smithtown to buy two chances with her lucky numbers.

“I would pay all my bills first. I’d invest and go on vacation all over the world,” she said. “I’d go to my mother’s country, the Dominican Republic.”

Pete Wholey, 62, of Ronkonkoma, was next to buy Powerball tickets at the store. He and a group of seven friends always go in together when the jackpot gets big enough and $700 million is definitely enough, he said.

“When you got eight guys, you gotta go for the big stuff,” he said.

He’d donate his share to benefit veterans.

Chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million — with the odds always the same regardless of the prize.

The highest Powerball jackpot was nearly $1.6 billion in a January 2016 drawing, which was split among three winning tickets purchased in California, Florida and Tennessee.

The latest Powerball jackpot tops the highest-ever Mega Millions jackpot — $656 million in 2012. Three winning tickets were purchased in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

Tickets for the Powerball game cost $2 each. The live Powerball drawing will air on select lottery draw stations on Wednesday at 10:59 p.m.

Nesconset Cards and Gifts in Nesconset is a lucky store, said Terry Petrani, 63, of Nesconset. She’s been buying weekly lottery tickets there for 15 years and with three Powerball machines, the store has seen its fair share of winning tickets, with a large wall of winner announcements, ranging from about $400 to tens of thousands more.

Petrani said she’s never won big, though she’d like to be able to help pay for her grandchildren’s college tuition.

“They have a whole wall of winners,” she said. “And it’s like family here.”

Store owners Nick and Jane Sheth said they haven’t bought tickets and don’t usually participate. The money would be nice though, Jane Sheth said.

“We’d save some for charity and our son’s school,” she said.

The real prize for them is the business that the high jackpot is bringing in, Nick Sheth said. They’ve seen a steady stream of people coming in since last week looking for Powerball tickets.

“It’s been increasing and we’re hoping to get busy” Wednesday, he said. “Usually people wait until the last minute.”

With Lisa Irizarry

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