Glenn Murphy of Madison, buys five Powerball tickets from Circle K clerk Marcella Brierly on Wednesday. Murphy said he only plays when the jackpot “gets over a couple hundred million dollars,” and that he plays with numbers from family birth dates. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Glenn Murphy of Madison, buys five Powerball tickets from Circle K clerk Marcella Brierly on Wednesday. Murphy said he only plays when the jackpot “gets over a couple hundred million dollars,” and that he plays with numbers from family birth dates. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Thousands of people purchased Powerball tickets throughout Jefferson County on Wednesday hoping that they might overcome the odds and become instant millionaires.

The multi-state Powerball Lottery boasted an estimated $550 million jackpot - the second-largest in U.S. history - before the drawing Wednesday night. The cash value of the jackpot was valued at more than $360 million for the drawing with odds of 1 in 175 million to win the top prize.

Karolyn Cross, manager of the Circle K Marathon gas station on Clifty Drive, said ticket sales began to increase for last Saturday's drawing with a jackpot of $425 million.

With no winners Saturday, ticket sales took off.

"People have been here buying all day," Cross said.

Nearly 544 tickets had been sold in four hours Wednesday at the one location. That's more than the store usually sells in one day, she said.

Cashier Stacie Robbins also noticed an increase in sales over the last few days as the jackpot continued to grow. Even though sales increased for Saturday's drawing, sales really increased Wednesday with people purchasing a ticket on their way to work.

Both employees expected the rush for Powerball tickets to increase as people drove home from work Wednesday. Ticket sales for Wednesday's drawing had already topped the number of tickets sold for one drawing during Cross' time as manager of the store.

Even though total ticket sales had increased, Robbins and Cross said they hadn't noticed people buying more tickets at one time. Most people purchase anywhere from a single $2 ticket to $50 worth of tickets with hopes of hitting the jackpot.

Yet, Robbins and Cross said two lottery hopefuls stood out from the others.

"We had a couple of ladies buy $100 worth of tickets," Cross said.

While the store has its normal customers who purchase tickets for the lottery on a regular basis, several people who normally don't buy lottery tickets have been taking a chance since the jackpot is so large.

"People who don't usually buy are buying," Cross said.

And people are dreaming big should they win the half-billion-dollar jackpot.

Lots of customers tell her of what they plan to do with their millions should they be the lucky winners, Robbins said. Some customers said they wouldn't tell anyone of their windfall of cash and just leave town, while others talked of investing or paying off all of their debts. One customer said they'd buy a private island and go live on it alone, she said.

Still, most customers have the same idea should they win millions.

"Most of (the plans) are vacation," Cross said.