Forget the odds

HANCOCK COUNTY — One hopeful woman said she’d provide for her loved ones. Another imagined a life where her family could choose its future without financial worries.

The record-breaking estimated $800 million Powerball jackpot has local lottery players crossing their fingers as they pack into convenience stores and gas stations to buy $2 tickets for a shot at the big prize.

The number of customers buying Powerball tickets at the Speedway at 1253 N. State St. doubled — at least — when the jackpot reached $400 million last week, co-manager Bev Wilburn said Friday morning, and the number of people taking their chances has only increased since then.

For more than two hours Friday morning, the store was packed wall to wall with customers buying the tickets, Wilburn said. Associates even had to replace the paper in the Powerball printer.

“It was a Friday morning like I’ve never seen before,” she said. “We couldn’t get away from the register.”

However, many customers will wait until the morning before the deadline to buy a ticket, she added, so she expects a hectic morning rush today.

Greenfield resident Georgette Tate bought four tickets — one for each of her children — Friday morning before going to work. She doesn’t usually buy lottery tickets, but she felt compelled after hearing the jackpot total on the radio, she said.

Tammy Edwards, a lottery enthusiast, won $3 and a free Hoosier Lotto ticket as she was buying more Powerball tickets Friday morning. She hoped her luck would continue to the Powerball jackpot.

The next Powerball drawing is tonight. For those who match all five white balls and the red Powerball, the prize will be $800 million paid out over 30 years, or about $500 million in cash. Those numbers are before federal and state taxes, which will eat about half of the cash-option prize.

Ticketholders have a 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning. The odds of winning are so small that buying additional tickets doesn’t help that much.

Experts are already doling out advice on what to do if you win big.

Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said to avoid the risk of overspending or an investment mishap, a safe option would be to take the annuity, guaranteeing a huge annual payout for three decades.

For those who want to invest the money themselves, she suggests setting aside part of the cash option to buy their own annuity that would give them a guaranteed income in case the return on the money they do invest comes up short.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.