DES MOINES, Iowa — Black Friday shoppers in many cities briefly detoured into lottery retailers, drawn off task by the prospects of winning a $325 million Powerball jackpot — the fourth-largest in the game’s history.
Chicago resident Clyde Gadlin, 65, emerged from the bustle of holiday shoppers on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, to stop in at a 7-Eleven to buy his daily batch of Lottery tickets, including Powerball.
For him, the game is a chance to dream — a single winner’s cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes — and he tries not to let the long odds burst his bubble.
Lottery officials say they’re unsure what effect Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season will have on sales, which normally pick up in the days before high-dollar drawings.
If he wins, Gadlin said, he’d journey to his grandfather’s farm in Heidelberg, Miss., where he spent part of his childhood. “I would go down there again and probably do a little bit of farming,” he said.
And if Gadlin isn’t successful this time, it’s likely he’ll have another shot at a record-breaking pot of cash.
Since Powerball tickets doubled in price to $2 in January, the number of tickets sold has decreased, but the sales revenue has made up for it, increasing by about 35 percent, said Norm Lingle, Powerball board chairman.
And as the price went up, so did the jackpots, enticing thousands across the country.
“Christmas is coming, and $325 million would come in handy,” said Tim Abel, 63, who was buying a Powerball ticket at New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Roxie Breece, assistant manager at a Cenex convenience store in Ogallala, Neb., thinks the long weekend will help. She said Friday that clerks have sold far more Powerball tickets than usual over the last week.
“Tomorrow’s going to be a nightmare for us,” she said.
“With everybody out shopping and the drawing on Saturday, we’ll be really busy.”
Lingle, who is also the executive director of the South Dakota Lottery, said this weekend will be “telling.”
“To my knowledge, we’ve never had a large jackpot run like this fall over a major holiday,” he said.
Recent Powerball jackpot winners include an Iowa couple who won $202 million on Sept. 26.
Terry Fowler, 50, of Conneaut, Ohio, was visiting family in Tennessee for the holiday and stopped in a gas station in Brentwood on Friday morning to buy Powerball tickets.
“I want to see more than one person hit it so they can share the wealth,” said Fowler, a sales representative with a food service company.
“I don’t think any one person needs $325 million. If 7-10 people hit that, they will live like kings.”