East Tennesseans try their lottery luck for record Powerball prize
As the Powerball jackpot climbs to $550 million, East Tennesseans are trying their luck for a piece of the prize.
Nick Patel runs the Farragut Market where, already, ticket sales are boosting business.
"Easily what we do in a week, we did in one day today," he said Tuesday, more than 24 hours before the Powerball drawing.
Patel's business has sold a high-dollar winning ticket before, which draws customers to return each time the jackpot grows.
"Some people say they've driven 50 miles just to come here and to buy even one ticket," he said.
Lottery officials say Tennesseans have won about $315 million in Powerball prizes since the state joined the game in 2004. Only one of those players, Bobbi Hubbard from South Pittsburg, TN, scored a jackpot. Hers was worth $25.5 million.
"There's nine prize levels, so even if you don't win the jackpot you might win one of the other prizes levels, as well, and all of it is helping education in the state on top of it," said Director of Media Relations for the Tennessee Lottery, Kym Gerlock.
"All of our profit, all of the money that we make goes to fund specific education programs in the state of Tennessee. That's primarily scholarships and grants to higher education institutions in Tennessee," she said. So far, $2.47 billion has been raised for those programs.
Gerlock explained how the money is divided in Tennessee:
About 27 cents of every lottery dollar goes to education funding, while about 62 cents of every dollar contributes to lottery prizes. The remaining amount is split between retailers who sell the tickets and operational costs.
The price of a Powerball ticket went up this year, from $1 to $2. Gerlock says the goal was to create a bigger pot for winners and the educational funding.
"That was one of the things in mind," she said. "More millionaires and more, bigger jackpots. And certainly we're seeing that coming true since those changes have taken place."
Keith Burnett tried his luck at the Farragut Market Tuesday.
"When it gets this big... something draws me to it, I guess," he said, already making plans to spend the winnings.
"For friends and family that needed it. I'd take care of everybody I know."