Record Powerball jackpot lures local ticket buyers

Tenzing Pema, a clerk at Zambala Grocery in New London, sells a Powerball ticket Wednesday, with a record $550 million jackpot, to a customer.
Tenzing Pema, a clerk at Zambala Grocery in New London, sells a Powerball ticket Wednesday, with a record $550 million jackpot, to a customer. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

William Miner Jr. was aware of the long odds when he bought his Powerball tickets Wednesday at Sully's Mobil on Colman Street in New London.

"I realize that I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, but when the jackpot is this high, you have to take a chance," he said of the 1-in-175-million chance of winning the estimated $550 million prize.

Miner said that if he wins, he would get a lawyer, hire a financial advisor and try to remain anonymous.

"Unfortunately, I probably would have to move," Miner said, laughing.

The previous record Powerball jackpot — $365 million — was won by a pool of workers at a meat-packing plant in Nebraska in February 2006.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6. The $550 million jackpot is second only to the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot won earlier this year by three ticket buyers in three separate states.

According to Connecticut Lottery officials, more than 2,600 tickets were sold every minute between 8 and 9 Wednesday morning.

If a Connecticut retailer sells the winning ticket, the establishment would receive $100,000 from the Connecticut Lottery. This run of Powerball has generated an estimated $7 million in revenue, which goes into the state's General Fund.

Local race car driver Shawn Monahan, who was at the Mobil gas station on Route 85 in Waterford, said he purchased Powerball tickets for the first time Tuesday.

"My wife nudged me," said Monahan, who gestured with his elbow. "She said, 'Imagine what we could do with all that money.'"

Monahan said that if he won, he would purchase racing teams, horses for his son and spread the wealth.

"I would have a lot of wealthy friends," Monahan said. "There would be no homeless people in southeastern Connecticut."

Mohammed Hossain, manager at 7-Eleven on Broad Street in New London, said customers were buying tickets like "crazy."

"I've had customers who have never bought tickets who are buying tickets," he said. "Everyone seems so excited."

i.larraneta@theday.com

Maria Diaz, right, sells a customer Powerball tickets at a local supermarket in Hialeah, Fla.,Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game. Already over $500 million, it is the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.
Maria Diaz, right, sells a customer Powerball tickets at a local supermarket in Hialeah, Fla.,Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012. There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game. Already over $500 million, it is the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March. Alan Diaz/AP Photo

The winning numbers

Powerball: 5-16-22-23-29 Powerball: 6

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POLL

Will you buy at least one ticket for the record Powerball jackpot?

Yes, what's the harm? It's only a few bucks.

64%

Yes, I'm in a company pool and feeling lucky.

9%

No, lotteries are silly and a waste of money.

19%

No, I'm morally opposed to lotteries and gambling.

8%

Number of votes: 570