Jerome Simmons stood on a Charleston street corner with arms stretched wide, imagining that he was already holding the oversized grand-prize check for Wednesday night’s $485 million Powerball drawing.
The odds are 1 in 176 million of being the winner but that did not deter him.
“Yes, sir, I’m going to play it,” he said.
The jackpot, the third-largest in Powerball history, would mean a $327 million cash payout or $485 million in annual payments spread out over 30 years, officials said.
Powerball retailers in South Carolina and in other states saw so much business on Tuesday, that by afternoon the jackpot increased from its original $450 million, said Holli Armstrong, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Lottery Commission.
“This indicated sales are great nationally,” Armstrong said.
Simmons, a customer at the Coming Street Grocery, said he would include three zeros in the six digits that he will choose for his Powerball ticket but he did not say exactly why. He explained to a friend that meant multiples of 10. If he wins, he will buy himself and his mother a new home and devote a lot of the proceeds to charitable purposes.
“There ain’t no way you can spend all that money,” he said.
The grocery owner, Hany Allam, said a lottery retailer gets a commission of up to 7 percent if a winning ticket is sold.
“When it’s big like this, everybody buys,” Allam said.
Locals tend to procrastinate until the 9:59 p.m. deadline nears before buying a Powerball ticket for the 10:59 p.m. drawing, he said.
Customer Abraham Gathers was buying Pick 3 tickets on Tuesday. He said that he plays the Powerball jackpot drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Wednesday would be no exception.
“I’m going to get me a piece of it. Just give me $2 million,” Gathers said.
If he won the big prize, Gathers said he and his wife would spend a day or two in every state in the U.S. He would help his four sisters, brother and five kids as long as he didn’t wind up in the poorhouse doing it.
Superstition is the reason Darryl Fyall puts off purchasing a Powerball ticket. “For whatever reason, I think that I have a better chance if I wait until the last day of the drawing,” he said.
Fyall, an insurance salesman, said he plays Cash 5 every day. With Powerball winnings, he would start a bank or credit union. He puts down the same numbers on his ticket every time but he won’t discuss them.
“It’s a secret,” he said.
It’s been almost two years since South Carolina sold its last jackpot-winning ticket which was worth $399 million.
On Tuesday, lottery officials issued a statement that in part discouraged “overspending” on Powerball because the odds of winning the jackpot don’t change if a player buys 20 tickets instead of just one.
There are eight ways to win an amount less than the jackpot and that could be in the $1 million to $2 million range, officials said.
For Fyall, it all starts with buying a ticket.
“You’ve got to be in it to win it,” he said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711