Las Vegas residents take lottery dreams to California

For the past week, throngs of anxious Las Vegas residents have filed into Primm for a chance to win a massive lottery jackpot.

But by Tuesday, as the night’s drawing approached, lines were so congested that many Southern Nevadans were driving on to Nipton, California, to purchase their tickets.

Sean Prophet, vice president of Nipton Inc., said at midday that about 200 people were lined up at the Nipton Trading Post, about 65 miles south of Las Vegas.

“We’re having an unprecedented number of people in Nipton right now,” Prophet said. “The situation down in Primm is nightmarish, and that’s where everyone’s coming from. Traffic was backed up onto the (Interstate) 15 yesterday because of all of the people. Some people were talking about four- or five-hour waits in traffic. A lot of people I talked to here said they gave up on Primm and came over here because the lines weren’t as bad.”

The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize — the world’s largest ever lottery jackpot — and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real. That is, those are the amounts you’d be paid if you chose an annuity, doled out over 29 years.

Prophet said he started seeing a rise in business last week.

“When the jackpot goes up above five or six hundred million, that’s when people really get interested,” Prophet said. “It’s extremely busy, and people are very excited. I actually was running the machine yesterday for quite a while, and I’ll probably be going back on it because it’s really all hands on deck right now. I had a guy come in and buy $3,000 worth of tickets at once yesterday. I’d never sold anyone that many tickets before.”

The store is hardly selling anything else, according to Prophet, who says the occasional customer still comes in to buy drinks and burgers.

“We’re just happy that people are coming out here and seeing Nipton, because we have a lot more to offer than just the lottery,” Prophet said.

Contact Mia Sims at Follow @miasims___ on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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