“This’ll be the next winning ticket,” the cashier says with a smile as she pulls it from the printer behind the counter.
Looking at the line snaking around the store, it appears others have high hopes, too. Maybe a little luck is left after Ole’s Country Store in East Missoula produced a million dollar ticket just two weeks ago.
At that time, odds were one in 5,138,133 that the Powerball ticket Adam Clark purchased was worth $1 million. Now, the odds would seem much improved, at least based on the significant uptick in tickets sold at Ole’s since Clark’s windfall.
“Anecdotally, we hear from stores that sell a winning ticket that they get more traffic, they get more people coming in, because those players consider them a lucky store.” says Jo Berg, communications manager with the Montana Lottery.
Superstition has always had its place in gambling. But unlike video gaming or slot machines that some players consider “cold” after they pay out, retailers generally see a big boost in business after selling a winning lottery ticket.
Ole’s cashier Sharon Krickey says the store has sold about 100 Montana Lottery tickets every day since the winning ticket was sold there on April 15. Before, she says, the store sold an average of between 50 and 75.
“And, of course, when you go in to buy a lottery ticket you’re probably going to buy something else while you’re in there, too,” Berg says. “It does end up being a plus for the retailer.”
But the math doesn’t support those who flock to “lucky” stores. The odds of winning $1 million playing Powerball remain at one in 5.1 million no matter when or where you buy the ticket. And that’s assuming you throw in an extra dollar for “Power Play,” which multiplies the winnings. The chances of winning the Powerball jackpot—$65 million at press time—are one in 195 million.
But when your neighbor pockets a cool $650,000 (after taxes), allowing them to stock their retirement fund and set aside money for their daughter’s college tuition, what’s $2 for a chance at the same?