Stores see huge increase in lottery sales

Marshalltown’s Iowa Lottery ticket sellers were in a good mood and buyers were hopeful Wednesday on the eve of the Powerball drawing, estimated at $425 million.

Sales at two Marshalltown convenience stores had been brisk by mid-morning Wednesday, according to store managers.

Mohammed Gujar, owner and operator of the Depot,114 N. Center, said sales had doubled, and he expected that trend to continue throughout the day.

The jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing would fetch a single winner a lump-sum payment of about $244.7 million, according to the Associated Press.

Gujar said the jackpot had excited regular lottery players and newcomers alike.

Vanessa White, of Marshalltown, who bought a $2 ticket at the Depot, said the multimillion dollar payout motivated her to play.

“I don’t usually play until the jackpot gets huge,” she said. “And I’m not that lucky. Maybe I’ll get lucky this time.”

Luck may be random, but there are more winning lottery tickets for smaller $1 million and $2 million prizes since a major overhaul of the Powerball game in January 2012. An increase in ticket prices from $1 to $2 was aimed at building jackpots faster and generating more money.

Those smaller prizes still carry a big punch for their winners, and some people are willing to try any strategy to win them.

“Humans tend to be superstitious about things,” said Charles Strutt of the Multi-State Lottery Association. “We all have our ways to ensure our best luck. But every ticket has the exact same chance of winning.”

Gujar was partaking in the jackpot excitement as well, knowing stores which sell winning lottery tickets get a portion of the winnings, and in some cases, see a dramatic increase in business.

“I wish somebody would win the jackpot at my store,” he said.

He and two partners also own convenience stores in Fort Dodge and Mason City.

Gujar complimented the Iowa Lottery for its marketing prowess and screen placement.

He’s been watching customers and their habits for the two years he managed the store.

“Customers see the screen with the jackpot numbers immediately when they come up to the counter or are buying things near the register, like candy or Slim Jims,” he said. “They are eager to play then.”

The Git-n-Go at 902 W. Lincolnway had also seen a doubling in lottery ticket sales, said Linda Mancina, manager.

“The lottery business has been good this morning,” she said. “We’ve sold a lot of single and multiple tickets.”

While not close to the record $590.5 million Powerball jackpot won by a Florida woman in May, Strutt said if no winning combination for the major jackpot is drawn Wednesday, “we would be in world record territory” going into Saturday’s drawing.

The world’s highest lottery jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot sold in March 2012.