Powerball sugar plums danced in their heads

Powerball fever gripped North County Saturday.

Californians led the nation in Powerball sales, spending $59.1 million by 7 p.m. Saturday, when sales closed.

Powerball fans: It was a good day to be a local lottery retailer, maybe not so good to be a lottery ticket buyer.

Don’t tell Powerball ticket buyers that, though, because every one of them Saturday, before 7 p.m. or so, forked over their $2 for tickets, sometimes in mass quantities, and dreamed of the good life.

Lines formed early Saturday across Escondido, San Marcos and even Valley Center, but from the look of the land in late afternoon, the frenzy had abated somewhat.

Yet, optimism filled the air and even if they weren’t going to win, everybody seemed to hope for the best and enjoy the contemplated trip to Bountiful, to paraphrase a Broadway play title.

Such was the scene at the closest thing to a million dollar lottery store, Nordahl Liquor, where a winning $7 million, and as yet unclaimed, California Lottery ticket was sold Christmas Eve.

Noel Yako bought several Powerball tickets, and alka-seltzer, at Nordahl Liquor.

Noel Yako bought several Powerball tickets, and alka-seltzer, at Nordahl Liquor.

Noel Yako, a Carmel Mountain resident who immigrated from Iraq in 1983, trooped in Nordahl Liquor ready to win, or not, only the Shadow knows.

“I don’t think I’m going to win,” Yako said, before quickly adding, “You never know. It might be my day.”

Just in case, either way, Yako bought a bottle of alka-seltzer along with a fistful of tickets.

Escondido's Martin Ruiz had a happy-go-lucky attitude as he bought a $2 Powerball ticket.

Escondido’s Martin Ruiz had a happy-go-lucky attitude as he bought a $2 Powerball ticket.

Escondido’s Martin Ruiz came in on a wing and a smile. “Even if I don’t win, it’s kind of a donation,” he said, apparently referring to the fact that when winnings and lottery expenses are expended, some money is designated for social services and education.

Ruiz added: “I also bought several tickets for other people. I want to share the good luck.”

Bart Stichter, a San Marcos resident, was next in the queue for the golden ticket. “Who doesn’t want to be a billionaire,” he said. “I got four tickets here and four tickets at home. I’m also in a pool at work.”

So it went all over, under and across town. Downtown, at the corner of Grand Avenue and Juniper Street in the Great Grapevine, the 7-Eleven store did a bumper crop business in Powerball tix.

Clerk Maggie Cruz said a line formed to the rear for much of the day followed by a steady stream of dreams dancing in convenience store buyer’s heads. She said it was the most consistent lottery buying she had seen in two years behind the long counter. “They come in and say they only want the winner,” when they buy, she said.

Quantum Academy teacher Jo-Ann Fox bought tickets for herself and her dad.

Quantum Academy teacher Jo-Ann Fox bought tickets for herself and her dad.

Jo-Ann Fox, a Quantum Academy teacher, came in with a very specific request. While buying several tickets for herself, she also bought several tickets for her dad who lives at a nearby assisted living facility.

“Where do you put your names on the ticket?” Fox said to Cruz. “My dad wants his name on the back of his tickets.”

In any event, no spoiler alerts necessary. People around town had a better chance of dying from an asteroid strike, 1-in-74,817,414, than they did of having the winning jackpot ticket.

Powerball took in a record breaking $949.8 million jackpot with a cash value to the potential winner, or winners, of $558 million should they take it on lump sum. Spread it over 29 years and they would get nearly a billion dollars.

Should no winning ticket have been sold, and 25 percent of number combinations went unclaimed, according to Multi-State Lottery Association officials, the jackpot could be expected to rise above $1.3 billion for the next drawing on Wednesday. Saturday’s jackpot began on Nov. 7 at $40 million and rolled over 19 times before the big draw, officials said.

Winning numbers were chosen at 7 p.m.PST. Spoiler alert — although who doesn’t know by now and who wouldn’t want it to be spoiled had they won — winning numbers were 32, 16, 19, 57, 34, and Powerball number a very lucky 13.

While California, obviously didn’t have a jackpot winner, the state featured six 5-of-6 winners, according to California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez. Likely, they would receive winnings of more than $1 million, he said. One of those 5-of-6 tickets was purchased in Dana Point, Lopez said.

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. California and Pennsylvania exempt lottery winnings from state income taxes if the winning ticket was bought in-state.

Texas officials said $1,361 worth of tickets were sold every second from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday. New York state’s gaming commission recorded $3.3 million in ticket sales per hour by 4 p.m. EST.

All six numbers must be correct. The first five numbers can be in any order, but the sixth must be the Powerball number.

What were the odds of that? They were calculated at 292.2 million to one. Or as Time Magazine revealed…

 Here are 10 things that are more likely to occur than winning the lottery:

1. Dying from an asteroid strike: 1 in 74,817,414

2. Getting killed by a terrorist act in the United States: 1 in 10,000,000

3. Getting murdered during a trip to the Grand Canyon: 1 in 8,156,000

4. Dying from chronic constipation: 1 in 2,215,900

5. Becoming a movie star: 1 in 1,505,000

6. Getting struck by lightning: 1 in 1,101,000

7. Dying from a hornet, wasp or bee sting: 1 in 79,842

8. Bowling a 300 game: 1 in 11,500

9. Being the same height actor Hugh Jackman, who is 6-foot-2: 1 in 23.3

10. Becoming disabled, disfigured or killed by a parasite: 1 in 7.2

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