MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 29, 2012

Muskogee mad for Mega Millions

Lottery sales have been brisk at stores across Muskogee, as patrons hope to snag the largest lottery jackpot in history.

The Mega Millions jackpot was an estimated $540 million Thursday afternoon, and that number could grow depending on sales, said Katy Smith, advertising manager Oklahoma Lottery Commission.

Darlene Derrick, general manager at Kum & Go at the corner of Main Street and West Southside Boulevard, said lottery purchases have been “busy as heck.”

“Everybody’s got a dream,” Derrick said. “It’s been extremely busy. There’s a lot of people coming in who don’t know how to play and buying tickets, and buying tickets, and buying tickets. People who don’t pay attention to it, normally, but are hearing about it, because $540 million will open your ears. I’m buying one, and I don’t buy them.”

Derrick said the jackpot has been the main topic of conversation with customers.

“People who have never wasted their breath on the lottery are talking about it,” she said.

Derrick said her customers have been understanding about waits to buy tickets.

“You’d be surprised how $540 million will calm the nerves,” she said.

Derrick said her normal customers are buying more tickets than normal, and the ones who don’t normally purchase lottery tickets are taking their chance.

However, Smith said that is not the approach to take.

“While we encourage people to get their tickets, we stress that they play responsibly,” Smith said. “You have to play to win, but please play responsibly.”

Smith said statewide Mega Millions sales are up 210 percent compared with this time last week and lottery sales are up 83 percent over the same time period.

“You can definitely tell there’s an excitement in the air,” Smith said. “More people are talking about it, and on social media we can track that. There’s been a huge increase in talk and excitement about the large jackpot in the Mega Millions game.”

Muskogee Beverage owner Alan Hiller estimates his store is selling four times as many tickets as normal, and expects that number to spike today. He stresses patience to those looking to purchase tickets.

“It started about Monday, but word of mouth has gotten out, and now they’ve been talking about it on the news,” Hiller said.

Both Derrick and Hiller said they hope the winner is from Muskogee.

Reach Mike Carrels at (918) 684-2922 or mcarrels@muskogeephoenix.com.

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