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Businesses love Powerball fever

By Staff | Feb 12, 2015

Nationwide, people stood in line at convenience stores to buy Powerball tickets for their chance at becoming a sudden millionaire.

Cape Coral and vicinity was no exception as on Wednesday night, lines formed as ticket buyers tried to beat the 10 p.m. deadline before sales closed on the fifth largest lottery jackpot in history, $564.1 million.

While ticket buyers prayed for a windfall that likely wouldn’t come, those who sold Powerball tickets experienced a smaller windfall of increased sales.

Tariq Khan, manager at Cape Coral Shell on Del Prado Boulevard, said business was booming Wednesday night.

“It was crazy. Everyone was buying Powerball tickets. Every time we have a big jackpot there’s a lot of traffic. They get their tickets and their groceries and gas,” Khan said.

“When there’s a big jackpot, we do five times the business. We had people buying 100, 200 tickets. They think they’re lucky and they go crazy for it,” Khan said, adding he sold more than 2,400 tickets, including $600 worth to one customer.

The average retailer who sells lottery tickets attracts customers who spend more on other goods as opposed to non-lottery customers, said Meagan Dougherty, a Florida Lottery spokesperson.

“When Powerball fever hits, people go into these stores after work or on lunch break,” she added.

The Florida Lottery said lottery agents attract high-frequency customers that boost traffic and sales by an average of 11 percent. Also, the average customer who comes to buy a lottery ticket spends $10.35 in the store compared to $6.29 for non-lottery customers.

Those numbers only go up when the jackpot hits record levels. On Wednesday, between 7 and 8 p.m., Dougherty said they were selling an average of 25,000 Powerball tickets per minute.

With the nearly 13,200 Lottery retailers statewide receiving 5 percent commission from each ticket they sell, those machines are churning out cash.

“Whenever they sell 25,000 tickets per minute across the state, they’re getting a piece of that. It’s definitely a boost for them.” Dougherty said. “The stores handle it well. There can be longer lines whenever the jackpot is high, but they do a good job.”

And in the event any local ticket agent happens to sell one of those big money tickets it could mean real big bucks for them.

According to the Florida Lottery, incentives start at $20,000 and increase by $5,000 with each rollover, up to a maximum of $100,000.

If the jackpot-winning ticket includes Power Play, the retailer earns an additional $20,000.

For a $1 million ticket, the commission is $1,000, or $5,000 if the player chose Power Play. Florida had two such winners in Wednesday’s drawing.

Three tickets, in North Carolina, Texas and for the first time, in Puerto Rico, matched all six numbers to split the jackpot.

The winning numbers in Wednesday’s drawing were: 11, 13, 25, 39, 54 and the Powerball 19.