Aspiring millionaires crammed gas stations and convenience stores in 27 states yesterday after the jackpot for the Powerball lottery game shot up to an all-time high of $340 million.
Residents of New York and New Jersey, where the game isn’t offered, flocked across state lines after Saturday’s drawing failed to produce a jackpot winner, automatically boosting Wednesday’s pot o’ gold.
Brooklyn truck driver Joe Losh [A member of our community and Gabai in 770], 55, drove to the Putnam Shell gas station in Greenwich, Conn., with $300 in his pocket — enough to buy tickets for 300 friends and relatives.
“It’s Sunday, and I wanted to take a little ride,” said Losh, of Crown Heights. “It’s good therapy, just to have the feeling that you might win.”
Linda Sukkin, assistant manager at a Morrisville, Pa., 7-Eleven, located just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, said business was booming, especially because of New Yorkers. “We might have over 300 people in the store at one time,” she said. “I noticed that we have a lot of cars from New York.”
The jackpot is the highest in Powerball’s 13-year history.
The previous top Powerball prize was given out Christmas Day 2002, when West Virginian Jack Whittaker won $315 million.
But even the whopping $340 prize isn’t the biggest in world lottery history. That honor goes to Powerball’s chief rival, Mega Millions, which gave out $363 million in May 2000.
Diane Patterson, a spokeswoman for Powerball, said record jackpots spur people who don’t normally play the lottery to buy tickets.
“It’s the casual player, who’s standing by the water cooler and saying, ‘What if?’ ” she said.
Others, like Steve Sharpe, a security guard for Bad Boy Entertainment, are lottery regulars.
“I’ve been playing it for years,” said Sharpe, 40, of Harlem. “If you’re not in it, you won’t know. You never know when blessings will come your way.”