Big Powerball jackpot fuels dreams.
The last weekend before Christmas traditionally brings along with it scores of shoppers picking out last-minute presents for friends and family.
Plenty of picking went on Friday night at the Valley River Center, but it wasn't gifts that shoppers visiting the Everything and More store were taking home with them.
"I went in for a (scratch-it lottery ticket), but then I saw the Powerball jackpot and figured, why not," said Jerry Stone, who stopped at the mall on Friday for a bit of Christmas shopping and some dinner.
"This is my Christmas present right here," said Stone, who purchased just a single ticket for tonight's drawing.
With a jackpot estimated at $215 million, it's hard to blame folks for spending a few bucks on themselves, even if Christmas is only four days away. Scratch-its might be a great stocking stuffer, but you won't win $215 million with those.
"It's lotto fever at Valley River," said Brian Bach, who manned a cash register at Everything and More on a day when the store sold more than $1,000 worth of lottery tickets. Bach expects twice as many people will be in today to purchase tickets before the 7:59 p.m. drawing.
Today, "you won't even be able to get in the door," said Bach, whose only advice to Powerball players was to come in early, since ticket sales end at exactly 6 p.m.
"Don't come by at 5:59, because you might be too late," he said.
Tonight's jackpot, which jumped from $160 million after nobody won Wednesday, is one of the largest ever. The biggest was a $295 million prize in August 2001. Since Powerball first came to Oregon in 1992, just two jackpots have been won in the state.
Those odds didn't deter Jody Moebius from taking a chance with tonight's drawing.
An infrequent player, you could almost see the dollar signs in Moebius' eyes as she came out of the variety store with her 10 Powerball combinations.
"I only play when it gets big," she said. "Not that $2 million isn't big, but this is something else."
Moebius, who declared herself the winner only seconds after purchasing the tickets, said she wasn't spending any cash meant for Christmas goodies, just "fun money" saved for a rainy day such as Friday.
Jerry James, who runs the Ribbon Candles shop in the mall, said he buys a ticket any time someone hands him a tip for his candles.
"If I win, I'm going to give away all of those candles," he said. "It's a cheap thrill, that's all this is."
Foot Locker employee Josh Gillock, dressed in his referee-striped work uniform, bought a single ticket during a lull in business before quickly walking back toward his post.
At first, Gillock said he didn't know what he'd do with his winnings if his numbers are called tonight. About two seconds later his eyes lit up and he said with a smile that he would give part of the jackpot to his church.
"I'd keep the rest for myself," he finally admitted. "I'd buy a house, for sure, and a new fleet of cars to start with ... But for anybody to win $215 million, they're going to have to be really lucky."
CHRIS PIETSCH / The Register-Guard
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|Title Annotation:||Lottery: The thought of winning the $215 million prize has residents lining up to buy tickets for tonight's drawing.; Gambling|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Dec 21, 2002|
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