Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Powerball sales boom

Lawrence stores welcome drive for jackpot

August 23, 2001


Matching five numbers and the Powerball is one way to win.

Another is to be one of 48 sales locations for the Kansas Lottery in Lawrence.

"It's huge," said Shawn Brown, store manager for Hy-Vee, 4000 W. Sixth St. "It's a considerable draw when it gets to be like this."

Up until the 8:59 p.m. sales deadline Wednesday, customers were pouring into convenience stores, gasoline stations and grocery stores across town, snapping up 1-in-80 million shots at winning an estimated $200 million Powerball jackpot.

Through early Wednesday afternoon, Kansas Lottery officials reported statewide sales of 1,400 tickets per minute. The sales pace picked up speed as the 9:59 p.m. drawing drew closer.

"It feeds on itself," said Jane Elliott, a lottery spokeswoman in Topeka, where officials were monitoring receipts.

Retailers who operate lottery machines collect 5 cents for each $1 ticket sold, plus extra payments for cashing winning tickets or selling a winning one.

At Miller Mart, 1801 W. Second St., manager Raheem Khetani smiled as he rang up ticket sales. Wednesday's totals bolstered the store's standing as the fourth-busiest lottery outlet in Lawrence.

Khetani lamented that it almost was too much of a good thing.

"People used to buy groceries, then $2 to $5 on tickets," he said. "Now they come in and spend $50 to $100 on tickets, and nothing on groceries. They spend it all on Powerball, and maybe a drink that's it. They don't want to spend for anything else."

Mary Jane Dunlap took a side trip during her lunch hour to pick up 17 tickets for herself and friends at the lottery's No. 5 outlet in Lawrence: Dillons, 1740 Mass.

But Dunlap actually added to the store's grocery coffers. She picked up a loaf of bread for $1.06 before sauntering over to the customer service counter for a chance at striking it rich.

"For $200 million, my friends and I figure it's worth it to give it a chance," she said. "What can you buy for a dollar? Not much else."

Jeff Pierce stopped into Miller Mart on the way home from work and put down $20 for himself and his fellow employees in the pharmacy at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

If they happened to hit the big score, Pierce still promised to show up for work this morning.

"I'd probably volunteer, maybe part-time in other areas where they need the help," the clinical coordinator said. "They wouldn't have to pay me."

At Hy-Vee, Brown considers his store's Powerball sales as both a customer service and promotional vehicle.

Someone who stops by the store to pick up a ticket also might wander into the produce section or cereal aisle, or visit the deli counter.

"Maybe they're coming in to spend that $1 (on a ticket), but maybe there's another $10 they'll spend in the store," said Brown, who estimated that the store's Powerball sales were up at least 30 percent from last week.

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