By HANS MADSEN
Messenger staff writer
Shortly before noon Wednesday, the lottery point of purchase display at the Ampride Cenex station at 3243 Fifth Ave. S. began flashing a "Green Alert" to announce the Mega Millions estimated jackpot had just hit $500 million.
Chris Carnelley, a clerk at the Cenex Ampride at 3243 Fifth Ave. S, prepares to print out a Mega Millions ticket Wednesday afternoon as the point of sale display flashes the new jackpot, $500 million.
The record-setting jackpot, while increasing in sales, according to local retailers, has not caused any mania, lines or riots - yet.
But Chris Carnelley, a clerk at the station, said he's seen an increase in several types of ticket sales, including pools from employees at local companies.
"One person will bring in a hundred or $200 from their coworkers," he said.
Mega Millions facts
As of Wednesday, the estimated Mega Millions jackpot was $500 million - half a billion. According to the Mega Millions website, the winner - if there is one - could collect a lump sum payment of $359 million. The highest jackpot listed on its annuity payout chart is $331 million; that would mean an annual payment of almost $13 million. The odds of winning the jackpot are listed as 1 in 175,711,536 or, if expressed as a decimal: Almost zero. Purchasing multiple tickets does not increase the odds of winning on any particular ticket, it merely gives the purchaser more chances to win. The next drawing is Friday evening. Tickets cost $1 per play.
And, he said, he's noticed that people who normally don't purchase Mega Millions tickets are doing so now. Some of his regular purchasers are buying more.
"They think it helps their chances," Carnelley said.
Lavera Altman, of Fort Dodge, planned to buy some chances for the Friday drawing, she said Wednesday.
She has plans for some of the money - if she wins.
"I'll buy everyone in my family the same vehicle in a different color," Altman said.
In addition, she plans on investing some in real estate and funds for her children and would also like to build and open a skating rink.
"I've got big dreams," she said.
Her friend, Mahleeyah Bandoo, also of Fort Dodge, also planned to buy tickets for the big jackpot. She only plays the Mega Millions if the jackpot gets large enough, she said.
Her wish list - were she to win - includes a college fund for her children, homes for her family and a beauty supply warehouse.
Erica Attig, of Fort Dodge, will buy one ticket; she normally plays the Powerball game instead.
Attig is pragmatic about her chances of winning.
"If it's my time to win, then it's my time to shine," Attig said.
Lottery players seem to always consider if they will keep their jobs if they win the Big One. Altman, Bandoo and Attig all said they would work - just not at what they're doing now.
"I'd do a job that makes me feel responsible," Attig said, "I wouldn't want the money to change me."
But whether to work or not isn't an issue for Ken Bethke, of Fort Dodge. He's retired.
If he won, she'd pay off the house and other bills, he said. Then it would be on to the fun. "Take a good long vacation," Bethke said.
At Casey's General Store, 2206 Second Ave. N., Marci Markley, store manager, said Mega Millions ticket sales have increased.
"Most of those who come in are after the Mega," Markley said.
Most of them let the machine select their numbers, she said.
"The majority is the Easy Pick."
As for herself, Markley only plays occasionally.
"Once in a while I'll buy a mistake ticket," she said. "But that's never paid off."
Markley has no idea what she would do if she ever won.
"I hadn't thought about it," she said Wednesday. "Your chances are so slim."
Steve Lawler, manager of the Clark/Tom Thumb Store, 201 N. 15th St., has been watching his sales rise too.
"Everybody's buying them," Lawler said. "It seems like every time we punch that machine it's a Mega."
Lawler is a regular player of both the Powerball and Mega Millions.
"Once a week I spend three dollars," he said. "I haven't had very good luck."
Contact Hans Madsen at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com