MOUNT VERNON — Dan Fowler doesn’t normally buy lottery tickets, but the $500 million Mega Millions jackpot made him pause as he started out of Neff’s Cardinal Market, then retrace his steps to buy a ticket for today’s drawing.
“I don’t play a lot, but for $500 million ...,” he said, adding that he usually plays anytime the jackpot goes over $200 million.
Mack Patel, a manager at Hot Rod’s Food Mart on Coshocton Avenue, said “Sales are going through the roof. We’ve probably sold $800 today in seven hours.”
Although other games have attractive jackpots as well, he said probably nine out of 10 are buying Mega Millions tickets and they’re buying more than normal.
At the rate tickets were selling, he said Thursday, the jackpot might be $600 million by the time of the drawing.
Brad Horwalt, shift manager at Neff’s, said sales had been brisk Thursday as both regular and new customers were buying tickets, but he thought the biggest sales were still to come: After 5 p.m. Thursday and today. Customers are also buying other tickets, mostly scratch-off tickets.
Sales were also brisk at Haldeman’s Fresh Food in Fredericktown, according to manager Denise Johnson. She said lottery players were each typically spending about $5 for tickets, and she expected sales to pick up even more after 5 p.m. Thursday.
Sales usually increase when the prize gets over $100 million, she said.
Eric McDowell of Mount Vernon usually plays the lottery every month or so, “when I have a couple dollars I don’t mind spending,” but Thursday it was a case of “I just wanted to buy a ticket for such a big jackpot.”
And for Angelo Huerte of Mount Vernon, the huge jackpot was enough to get him to play for the first time.
“The people I work with asked me to come down and buy tickets for them,” he said. “I decided to put in a dollar also.”