Saturday, August 18, 2001

$128 mil prize brings out players

Plenty bet on Powerball

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        How does $14,027.40 a day for the next 25 years sound?

        That's what's at stake in tonight's estimated $128 million Powerball drawing, which would be the sixth-largest Powerball jackpot and the 10th-largest lottery in United States history.

        Before taxes, a lone winner would pocket $71.6 million in a lump sum payment or $5.12 million a year over 25 years, according to Heather Schutte, corporate communications director at the Kentucky Lottery office in Louisville.

[photo] Butch DeMoss, 47, of Covington and co-workers at Terminix in Florence pooled $85 for Powerball tickets.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Do the math, and the pretax numbers come out this way for 25 annual payments: $426,666.67 per month or $98,461.54 per week or $14,027.40 per day.

        One other number to consider: The Multi-State Lottery Association in West Des Moines, Iowa, reports your odds of winning are 80 million-to-1.

        Butch DeMoss of Covington may not have those numbers in mind Friday when he bought $85 worth of Powerball tickets at a BP convenience store in Erlanger. He was buying for the 14 employees at the Terminix plant in Florence.

        As he handed over his money, he remembered what happened Dec. 22, 1994 — the night he won $100,000 and missed a $22.8 million Powerball jackpot by one digit.

   Here are the top 10 lottery jackpots (and states where winning tickets were sold) in U.S. history:
    1. $363 million, May 9, 2000, The Big Game (Illinois, Michigan)
    2. $295.7 million, July 29, 1998, Powerball (Indiana)
    3. $197 million, April 6, 1999, The Big Game (Massachusetts)
    4. $194.5 million, May 20, 1998, Powerball (Wisconsin)
    5. $151 million, June 30, 1999, Powerball (Minnesota)
    6. $150.2 million, March 4, 2000, Powerball (Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri)
    7. $141 million, June 23, 2001, Super Lotto Plus (California)
    8. $130.6 million, Nov. 29, 2000, Powerball (New Mexico)
    9. $130 million, Nov. 4, 2000, Millennium Millions (New York)
    10. $118.8 million, April 17, 1991, game not listed (California)
    Tonight's Powerball jackpot, at an estimated $128 million, is set to become the 10th-highest jackpot in U.S. history.
   Source: Multi-State Lottery Association, West Des Moines, Iowa.
    Besides Kentucky, 20 states and Washington, D.C., participate in the Powerball. The states are:
    Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
    Tonight's $128 million jackpot would go to the holder of a ticket matching all five numbers and the Powerball. Paid out over 25 years, the $128 million would come to just over $5.1 million a year before taxes.
    A sole winner who chooses the cash option would pocket $71.6 million before taxes.
    There are eight other ways to win:
    • Five numbers, no Powerball — $100,000.
    • Four numbers and Powerball — $5,000.
    • Four numbers, no Powerball — $100.
    • Three numbers and Powerball — $100.
    • Three numbers, no Powerball — $7.
    • Two numbers and Powerball — $7.
    • One number and Powerball — $4.
    • Powerball alone — $3.
   Source: Kentucky Lottery Corp.

        Mr. DeMoss, who earlier in 1994 won a $100,000 Cash 5 payout, didn't know how his family would be able to buy Christmas gifts until he read off the numbers and found the only wrong number was the Powerball.

        “We got five,” said Mr. DeMoss, 47, of Covington. “The Powerball was 11, and I had 1.”

        Powerball mania has left Ohio lottery officials hurting. The Buckeye State has seen the Ohio Lottery suffer four years of dwindling sales.

        The Ohio lottery took in $1.9 billion during the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared with $2.15 billion reported in fiscal year 2000. Lottery sales have dropped every year since 1997, when the state collected $2.3 billion.

        Those losses are directly linked to popular multistate games (Powerball and The Big Game), which frequently produce jackpots of $100 million or more.

        Offered by 21 states — including Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia — and Washington, D.C., Powerball often lures dollars that might otherwise be spent on Ohio Lottery games.

        Last year's national record $363 million Big Game jackpot, offered in Michigan, clobbered the Ohio Lottery. Lottery agents in the state's northwest region reported sales were down about $9.4 million as Ohioans drove across the border to place bets.

        Two of Ohio's other neighbors fared well in Wednesday's Powerball drawing.

        Ms. Schutte said Indiana took in more than $3.2 million — Kentucky, $3.1 million — highest among states participating in the Powerball contest.

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, anxious to pump up dwindling state revenues, hopes to persuade skeptical lawmakers to add a multistate game, such as Powerball, to the list of games the lottery offers to boost funding for schools.

        That has renewed an ethics debate over whether government should be involved in gambling. Lottery critics say poor people are the ones who pay — and lose — the most.

        There was no such debate at the Blue Pantry store just off Ky. 17 in Independence or Howard's Fifth Street BP in Covington.

        Steve Claybern, 40, spends up to $10 a week on Powerball tickets. He stuck with his strategy — though it has yet to work.

        “For the Powerball, I play birthdays,” said Mr. Claybern, a home builder from Alexandria. “If I won, I'd build (a house) for myself.”

        Eric Cook of Bright, Ind., stopped at Howard's on his way to shop for furniture. He has been out of the military for about 10 years, and said he would bid adieu to the Tristate if he won.

        “I'd move back to Hawaii,” Mr. Cook said. “My wife's Samoan, and she has family back there.”

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