A lot of times, Wednesday night’s $345 million Powerball jackpot would be pretty respectable, but nobody is paying attention to that because no one hit Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot, which means its prize is now going to be at least $868 million, the second largest in U.S. history.
A steady stream of lottery players were at the Gateway Food Store in downtown New Haven. Behind the counter, Muhammad Thahir said big jackpots meant more customers.
“Yup. The big pot, $850 million so they’re playing a lot now,” Thahir said.
Some, like Will Mitchard, decided the Mega Millions prize was too big to ignore.
“I’ve never played. Never played. First time,” Mitchard said.
“Just when it gets this big,” Chris Cardona said about playing the lottery. “I don’t know. I can’t tell you why.”
The people who run Powerball and Mega Millions know that a lot of people only play when the jackpots get huge, so a few years ago they changed how the game is played to make it harder to hit the big prize. That means jackpots grow for months. No one has hit Mega Millions since July.
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You may have noticed we don’t see the long lines for tickets anymore. That’s because eight and a half years ago, all our neighboring states and Connecticut all started offering both Powerball and Mega Millions, so everybody can now play at their corner store. With almost every state now offering the games, that means more people adding to the pot.
When it comes to what they would do if they won, it turns out New Haven is full of very generous people.
“I would probably donate some money to some kind of cause and I would probably live a simple life and buy a small house,” Mitchard said. “I’m not the kind of person to go out and buy a houses on islands and stuff like that.”
“I’ll do some donations to different charities and probably give some to my family, of course,” said Carlona.
“Donate it to education,” said Naji Muhammad. “I would like that, you know what I mean? Because I hate the fact that teachers sometimes have to go without or get laid off or whatever.”
That generosity might get you some good karma, but it does nothing to improve your chances. The odds of winning are still 302,500,000 to 1.