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Big jackpot sure to spur lottery fever.

Byline: GARRET JAROS The Register-Guard

Cliche or not - the odds are better you'll be struck by lightning today than win the $125 million Powerball jackpot.

But when did odds ever stand a chance against optimism?

"This is only the second lottery ticket I've purchased," said a Eugene woman who asked to be identified as Bre. "With it up to $125 million, I figure just maybe I'll get a small portion of it. A hundred dollars would be nice."

The hum and clatter of ticket sales hasn't reached a crescendo yet, Eric Gunn said Friday night as he manned his post at the 7-Eleven at Sixth Avenue and Blair Boulevard in Eugene.

"We really haven't had that big of a rush," he said. "We won't see a rush until the night of the drawing, and then everybody will be in."

The same was true at Eugene's Dari-Mart on Coburg Road and Oakmont Way, clerk Dawn Winterstein said.

"Sales have picked up from when it was $10 million, but nothing like when it was $295 million and everybody was in," she said. "But there will be more tomorrow."

Saturday's jackpot, which jumped from $110 million after nobody won Wednesday, is not the biggest ever. Several pots have been higher, Oregon Lottery officials said. The two biggest were a $295 million jackpot in August 2001, and a $195 million jackpot in May 1998. Since Powerball began in Oregon in April 1992, Oregonians have won two jackpots.

Winterstein buys lottery tickets only when the jackpots are lower, figuring the odds are better because fewer people are playing, she said. But if she won Saturday's jackpot?

"I'd quit my job, or at least take a leave of absence," she said. "I'm too young to retire, retire because I'd get bored. I guess I'd get a new house, a couple of new cars, just a couple, and a college education for my kids."

Circle K clerk Andy Larson, who works at the 13th and High store in Eugene, said he's seen an increase in spending from the usual suspects, but no big rush from new ticket buyers.

Larson doesn't buy lottery tickets.

"It's supposed to be for entertainment purposes, not investment, and I don't find that very entertaining," he said.

But if he played and he won?

"I'd buy a recording studio and our band would make free records."

For some, paying a dollar for the short-lived dream of being a millionaire is reward in itself - even if it means taunting the lightning bolt gods.

"I'm not going to be extra careful or anything," Bre said of the lightning. "Friday the 13th is my lucky night, so I'm feeling lucky."
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Title Annotation:Gambling
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 14, 2002
Words:444
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