The Ottumwa Courier

November 28, 2012

‘What if’ dreams dancing in people’s heads as Powerball jackpot reaches $500 million mark

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Suddenly coming into half a billion dollars can change a person for the worse, some folks say. I’d like to put that to the test, say others.

“I’d  love to win $500 million,” said a smiling Billy Young of Ottumwa. “Really, just for the challenge — to see if it ruined my life.”

Store clerks around Wapello County said there’s lots of residents who would like a chance to test that theory firsthand.

“It’s been nuts,” said Jenna Maines, assistant manager at North Hy-Vee.

 On nights like Monday and Tuesday, when there is no drawing, they may sell 30 Powerball tickets. That can double on a day there’s a drawing.

“Last night (Monday), we sold 150, and today (Tuesday) has been way busier,” Maines said.

She’s had a lot of people who don’t buy lottery tickets tell her that because it’s so high, they decided to take a chance.

“I think I’ll invest $10,” said Young.

That’s even with Powerball ticket prices doubling recently.

“That extra cost, to $2, doesn’t seem to have phased customers at all,” said Mark Ebelsheiser, owner of the Quick Shop in Ottumwa. “Ever since it got into the couple hundred million range, it’s been pretty steady; they just raised it earlier today to $500 million.”

The Quick Shop has had several lottery winners over the years.

“We had a $100,000 game winner quite a while back, a $10,000 winner two or three years ago on Powerball, a $30,000 winner just recently. And there’s been other $3,000 and $5,000 winners on on scratch tickets,” Ebelsheiser said.

Stores don’t get a large percentage of the winnings; they make a few cents per ticket and draw in customers to shop. But they do get something.

“If someone were to hit the Powerball here, we’d get $10,000,” Ebelsheiser said.

 A small business with many regulars, the owner said that when customers do win a big prize, store employees are likely to see them again.

 “They’re pretty good about tipping the clerk who sold them the winning tickets,” Ebelsheiser said.

The lady who won $30,000 recently came to see her clerk and was quite generous. He said he is proud when he sees big winners behave with such class.

At age 84, Corky Stevens, who was out meeting friends for coffee Tuesday afternoon, said there aren’t as many things he’d want for himself as things he’d like to accomplish in the community. For one thing, he’d like to continue to support the groups he’s already donating to. The former U.S. Marine supports the YMCA and supported the fundraising effort for Bridge View Center. But if he did donate, he’d like to see a few things done his way.

“If I won $500 million, I’d pay off Bridge View. I mean it. Only, I hate when I see people with food or drink in that theater. I’d pay off Bridge View, only there’d be no eating or drinking in the theater.”