Las Vegas residents continued flocking to Arizona on Tuesday in an effort to get their hands on the winning ticket for one of the highest jackpots in Powerball history.
The pot, which rolled over after no winner was chosen on Saturday, is now estimated at $500 million, with a $327.4 million cash value. Powerball tickets are not sold in Nevada, California or Utah, making Arizona the closest option to enter the lottery.
Rosie’s Den, located in White Hills, Ariz., just 30 miles south of Hoover Dam, has been serving Las Vegas lottery players for the past 29 years. Since the Powerball jackpot rolled over on Saturday, Rosie’s Den has sold more than 250,000 tickets, General Manager Brad Larsen said.
"Almost all the people that buy lotto tickets here are from Nevada," Larsen said. "And we love the Las Vegans. Anytime the lottery goes over $250 million, people start lining up."
As the evening grew later, and more Las Vegas residents began arriving after their days at work, employees of Rosie’s Den prepared themselves to accommodate the masses. Store owners printed thousands of QuickPick tickets in advance. Employees raced in and out of the shop, waving tickets in hand, so QuickPick buyers didn’t need to wait in line. Others handed out blank lottery cards with pencils, so those waiting could fill out their cards before they reached the counter.
"We’ve probably printed 50,000 QuickPicks in advance so people don’t have to wait," Larsen said. "No one else will do that because they don’t want to get stuck with the tickets, but we know our customers are loyal."
Sandy Forshee, a Las Vegas banker, said she usually visits Rosie’s Den every other Wednesday to purchase lottery tickets. She came a day early this week to avoid what she predicts will be even longer lines Wednesday.
Although she knows the odds of winning are slim, she said she would rather play the lottery than gamble in a casino because the stakes are higher.
According to the Powerball website, the odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 175 million. The bleak chance of winning, however, did little to stop Las Vegas residents from buying tickets, or leaving with anything short of optimism.
"You can all go home now, unless your numbers match mine, because I have the winning ticket," one man shouted triumphantly, waving his ticket in the air as he walked to his vehicle. Though many chuckled, his optimism was mirrored among buyers, many of whom stood in line planning what their first purchases would be.
Cat Haney, a Henderson resident, said she would donate to a handful of churches and organizations if she brought home the jackpot.
"There was one (church) that helped me more than 20 years ago," Haney recalled. "I wasn’t even a member, but they gave me everything I needed when I was struggling. I would definitely give back to them."
Stephanie and Jason Freeman, who stood in line with their two young daughters, cheerfully considered the possibility of a $300 million payout.
"We’d visit our family all over the United States, but we wouldn’t tell them we won," Stephanie explained. "We’d just show up and surprise them. We could say ‘Guess what, you can retire. And guess what, you can retire too.’"
"And a horse!" one of the girls added.
"Yes," the couple agreed. "We promised her that if we won she could have a horse and an iPad."
Although dream purchases differed among buyers, one belief resonated strongly among those in line.
"You can’t win unless you play," Stephanie Freeman said. "You at least have to try."
The next drawing for the jackpot is 7:59 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact reporter Tara Verderosa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0264.