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Powerball jackpot at $160 million

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002

As tonight's Powerball jackpot enters into The Pennsylvania Lottery's history as the largest jackpot ever - presently $160 million - locals are eager for a piece of that rather large pie.

"They're playing it a lot," says Sandy Hart, an employee at the A Plus Mini Mart in Connellsville.

Hart saw an increase of Powerball sales after the beginning of December when the jackpot went over $100 million. She expects that today, the A Plus "is going to be packed."

Ed Saliba, manager at the A Plus, says that a line of people waited from the lottery machine to the outside of the door last weekend.

Of the people who enter the mini-mart and play the lottery, Hart finds that a majority are for the Powerball, which people play for office pools and individually. The average amount an individual spends at the A Plus is about $20 to $30 each, especially when the jackpot becomes higher.

For Connellsville resident Mike Gallo, who regularly plays Powerball and Cash 5 and prefers to purchase his tickets at different stores in the area, his usual winnings from Powerball are about $1 or $2, and the biggest payout he ever received from Powerball was $20.

Of course, with the odds of winning versus the number of chances one person has of winning the jackpot, Hart passes on the advice that is more than likely heard across the country from retailer to player: "It only takes one (ticket)."

"That might be it," says customer Alan Porter of Connellsville after requesting a quick pick selected from the lottery machine, which is an option that more people choose rather than picking their own numbers.

As Pennsylvania is feeling the excitement of its largest jackpot, the state is not alone in anticipating tonight's drawing.

Tonight's Powerball jackpot is the largest in the game's history and is also the largest in the world.

Not only is the annuity payoff the largest in The Pennsylvania Lottery's history, but the cash option alone of $86.5 million for tonight's Powerball the largest in the lotto's 31 years, according to lottery officials.

Before Powerball was introduced in June 2002, the largest jackpot and payout the lottery had was from the Super 6 where, in March, 14 grocery store employees in Franklin County won a cash payment of $30 million.

Although the Super 6 jackpot has experienced a slow rise since Pennsylvanians stopped crossing over to West Virginia to purchase their Powerball tickets, Hart says she's seen no such lag in Super 6 sales or the sales for any other lottery games, whether they would be online games or instant ticket games.

The Pennsylvania Lottery, which remains the only state lottery that designates its proceeds to benefit senior citizens, offers one bit of advice for people who want to play Powerball for tonight's 11 p.m. drawing, and that is to purchase tickets early in the day to avoid long lines and a last-minute rush for tickets.

While machines for the regular lottery, which consists of the Daily Number, Big 4 and Cash 5, close before the 7 p.m. drawing, customers can play Powerball until 10 p.m.

"Not a lot of people know that," said Hart who gets her share of last-minute lottery customers before a drawing.

On the Dec. 14 Powerball drawing, there were 172,739 winning plays sold, 25,835 of which selected the Power Play. The Power Play is an option on the Powerball which doubles the initial bet and can possibly multiply the winnings up to five times - something to think about when standing in line to purchase tickets.

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