Ticket after ticket fell into their hands, as Powerball fever fell over the land.
“Whew. What a Christmas that would be,” Ernistine Turner said as she looked over her Powerball tickets Wednesday at the JJs Exxon on the corner of Loop 323 and West Gentry Parkway in Tyler. “I'd still spend it wisely though.”
Ms. Turner was only one of the Powerball customers that purchased a ticket Wednesday in the estimated $550 million dollar jackpot.
In fact, Texas Lottery Commission spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said that between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. $1.9 million in tickets sold, with sales topping $31,682 per minute.
She added the cumulative Powerball sales for Wednesday through 3 p.m. were $10.6 million nationwide, and in Texas alone the sales were $5.1 million through the noon hour. In the Tyler district, ticket sales topped $580,000 for the day on Tuesday. Winning numbers were announced Wednesday night.
“Sales are just phenomenal, and we could see them go higher,” she said.
“We have been really busy, but tonight when people get off of work we are going to see this place go crazy,” store manager Lola Castillo said.
As the lotto machines continued spitting out tickets, the customers waited.
Many people were quick to say they were buying tickets, but they did not want to be named, including one woman who said if she won the first thing she would do is quit her job.
Others talked about buying a new car, traveling and building new homes, while some talked about helping others.
What could you do with $550 million?
Ms. Cripe said that according to Forbes magazine a sports fan could buy a number of teams.
The average cost of a Major League Baseball club in 2011 was approximately $605 million, with more than half of the teams valued at less than $550 million.
An NBA team — average value $393 million — with all but three of 30 teams valued at $500 million or less.
A National Hockey League team would be an ice-cold steal, with an average value of approximately $240 million, according to Forbes.
Kay Howard, store manager at Food Fast at Houston Street and Palace Street, said her lottery sales had more than tripled the sales of a regular day.
“It's been busy, but I figure about 5 p.m. the sales will really get going,” she said.
Ms. Cripe said there was cumulative growth of 1262 percent in ticket sales from last Wednesday at the same period and a cumulative growth of 301 percent over Tuesday at the same period.
And here is something to think about — if there is no winner in last night's drawing, the estimated payout for all six numbers Saturday would be an estimated $900 million.