Daydreaming is the fun part.
Traveling the world. Paying off your friends’ mortgages. Buying six beach houses on private islands. Helping Sandy victims. Quitting your job.
Residents across New Jersey and in 44 other states are enjoying those fantasies and many more as they line up to buy Powerball lottery tickets in advance of Wednesday’s record jackpot of at least $425 million.
The jackpot is still less than the Mega Millions jackpot of more than $640 million earlier this year, but the prospect of winning so much money — $278.3 million under the lump cash payout option, with a check in about two weeks — is likely to draw lines to those lottery retailers selling Powerball tickets.
For Sandra Brewer, 58, of Mays Landing, her dream is simple and generous.
“I would help people,” she said just before buying several tickets Monday morning at the 7-Eleven on New Road in Northfield. “I would help my friends pay off their mortgages and their bills.”
What else? “I’d like to open a healing center,” said Brewer, a massage therapist at the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
Elvin Rodriguez, of Hammonton, won some scratch-off tickets that he traded in Monday for four Powerball tickets. He said he buys tickets only when the jackpot goes over $100 million.
“Not that you can be complaining if you hit for $12 million, but if you buy it every day it gets expensive,” he said. “I’d definitely give a lot of it away. First, I’d take care of my family. I’d probably give it away to Sandy victims. I mean no matter how much money I give, I’m still going to have money for myself. My goal would be to take care of everybody that needs to be taken care of.”
Rodriguez also said he would buy himself a house and a car.
Emily Alejandro, of Pleasantville, works as a pediatric nurse in Northfield. She said she will probably do a work pool today, but she picked up her own tickets Monday. Alejandro just started buying tickets this year.
“This year hasn’t been a good year, so I figure I’m due,” she said. “I would probably tell my boss, close shop and let’s go. I’d retire, go away and take care of my family.”
Ken Patel, manager of the 7-Eleven on New Road in Northfield, said Monday morning that the lines had not yet formed and likely won’t until Wednesday, the day of the drawing. Powerball rules state that tickets stop being sold between one hour and two hours before the drawing, depending on the retailer. The drawing occurs at 10:59 p.m.
At Home Liquours in Pleasantville, Darren Whitland, of Galloway Township, bought two Powerball tickets. He usually starts buying when the payout passes $200 million.
“I’d help out the community, help out my family, pay bills,” he said.
The odds are long. Each $2 ticket has a 1-in-175,223,510 chance of winning the jackpot.
The odds of being struck by lightning in a single year is 1 in 1 million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The odds of being killed in a plane crash in a given year is about 1 in 11 million, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Unlike others who are collecting money to buy as many tickets and chances as possible, Brewer’s philosophy was simple: “I believe if you’re meant to win, if you buy one ticket, you’ll win. It’s a fate thing.”
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