By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
The largest Powerball ever generated a lot of coverage last week, with $1.5 billion up for grabs. Three jackpot-winning tickets were sold in California, Florida and Tennesee.
The prize is roughly $533 million before taxes, and $327.8 million if the winners choose the lump-sum payment.
While there were no jackpot winners in Nebraska for the Jan. 13 drawing, five winning tickets sold in the state matched four of the five white ball numbers plus the Powerball number for $50,000.
The five tickets were sold in La Vista, Lincoln, Omaha, O’Neill and Scottsbluff.
“Some lucky players in Nebraska are waking up richer today because of the new Powerball game,” said Jill Marshall, Acting Director of the Nebraska Lottery on Jan. 14.
Nineteen Nebraska Lotteryplayers have won the $50,000 Powerball prize since the prize was added to the game in October 2015.
“There are nine ways to win, so we encourage our Powerball players to check their tickets carefully for winners,” Marshall said.
Numbers may be checked at any Nebraska Lottery retailer, at nelottery.com or by calling the Nebraska Lottery offices at 402-471-6100.
Although none of the Nebraska Lottery winning tickets were sold in Imperial, the effect of the large jackpot was felt in town.
All five retailers selling the tickets reported increased traffic, although in different ways.
Samantha Hilker, manager of Kwik Stop, said her store “probably saw eight times the business as usual.” She said Kwik Stop was busiest during the 3-5 p.m. Happy Hour, where regular customers “used that opportunity to load up on Powerball tickets,” she noted.
Hilker said she didn’t think anyone traveled any big distance to purchase tickets at Kwik Stop, but added that some people were purchasing tickets for people living in other states.
Most of the customers purchasing Powerball tickets were regular customers, Hilker said.
That was also true at Hill’s Family Foods, where owner Dirk Hill said, “We saw more people buying tickets,” and shopping as well, but they were regular customers.
He didn’t think the event drew more people in to the store.
“They were buying more tickets because of the amount they could possibly win,” he said, adding that the sale of lottery tickets is “an added service we provide.”
At T-Junction, Manager Candy Druse said, “We had a lot more people buying tickets than normal,” but they were regular customers.
“A lot had never played Powerball before,” but were local people, she noted.
“Our sales probably doubled on Powerball,” Druse said.
Sam and Perry Crabtree of S&P Liquor are “actually glad it got drawn and somebody won,” Perry said.
Taking care of liquor purchases at the same time as “trying to get all of these lottery tickets done” made for hectic days, she said.
Perry said there were office pools that were purchasing up to $400 in lottery tickets that took time to deal with.
Donna Vlasin, owner of Beverage Barn, concurred. Dealing with lottery purchases “took our full attention,” in addition to taking inventory and making liquor sales.
Vlasin said Beverage Barn had new customers come in for the tickets, people who wanted to purchase tickets at every outlet “so they would have a better chance” of winning.
The mission of Nebraska Lottery is to generate proceeds for good causes while providing quality entertainment options to Nebraskans, Marshall said.
Over $581 million has been raised for the Nebraska Lottery’s beneficiary funds since the Lottery began in 1993.
All 93 counties in Nebraska have benefited from projects funded with the proceeds.
Chase County Schools has received at least three payments from the Nebraska Lottery in the past to use for educational purposes.