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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At the Smithfield News in Downtown Pittsburgh, there was a steady stream of lottery ticket buyers.
“There’s the winner,” shouted one customer.
Every lottery ticket buyer believes that, and why not?
The Mega Millions jackpot just hit a record $1 billion and the Powerball is now at $430 million, its 12th highest ever.
“I can’t recall quite a similar situation in recent years,” PA Lottery spokesperson Jeffrey Johnson told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
Two big jackpots at the same time, says Smithfield News owner Kashif Malik, adds up to more ticket buyers.
“More people coming in to play, plus more promotion to come through,” said Malik.
Prizes this big do get more people to take a chance on the lottery.
“It really draws in what we call the infrequent player,” says Johnson.
Jewel Thomas of Downtown doesn’t normally buy lottery tickets.
“Only when the jackpot is this huge,” said Thomas.
Others buy more tickets as the jackpot grows.
“I’ll play more when it’s higher,” notes Ken Cupp of Castle Shannon.
Teara Davis of the East Side just bought her first lottery ticket ever.
“I am trying to start a business so it would be a blessing for me,” she says.
Until the drawing Friday evening, based on the last Mega Millions drawing, the numbers will escalate.
“In the 7 o’clock hour, we were selling 7,600 tickets per minute, and between 6 and 7 p.m., we sold 450,000 tickets statewide,” noted Johnson from the Lottery.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is one out of 302 million.
And it doesn’t change the more people buy tickets, say Lottery officials.
“More people playing does not have an effect on an individual player’s chance of winning,” says Johnson. “The way you want to think about it is that there are set amount of numbers in the game, and it’s you against probability, not against the other players.”
Of course, more players means a greater chance of splitting the jackpot, and, “If you don’t have a ticket, you have zero chance of winning.”
KDKA money editor Jon Delano admits he almost never buys lottery tickets.
But when it gets close to $1 billion, even he can’t resist, knowing he just bought the winning ticket.
Unless it’s not.