By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — Bob Partridge has spent more than $1,500 on Powerball tickets over the last decade.
In all those years, he’s won just $10.
That didn’t stop the 69-year-old Pelham man from testing his luck one more time. Partridge was among the many who flocked to local stores yesterday to buy tickets in advance of tonight’s drawing of a jackpot that was at $360 million yesterday afternoon.
The jackpot is the third largest in Powerball history, according to New Hampshire Lottery spokeswoman Maura McCann. The largest jackpot ever was $587.5 million, won by two people in November, she said. Those tickets were purchased in Arizona and Missouri.
Partridge stopped off at Cumberland Farms on South Broadway yesterday to purchase two tickets.
“Not the same number,” he told the clerk.
The clerk assured Partridge he had just bought the winning ticket.
“You have been telling me that for five years,” Partridge said.
He also checked to see if he had won anything Saturday — he hadn’t.
But the store has had its share of winners. A sign boasts $263,317 in winning lottery tickets were sold there last year.
Partridge is determined to win — no matter what it takes. He has no specific plans for the winnings.
“Somebody has got to spend that money someday,” he said.
Helen Murphy, 70, of Pelham also is determined to win. She spent $16 on the lottery at Stateline Paysaver on South Broadway. That purchase included Powerball tickets.
Murphy said she’s stopped keeping track of how much spends on lottery tickets.
“If I added it up, I wouldn’t spend it, “ she said.
But the odds are against either of them winning the jackpot — one in 175 million, McCann said.
Some people buying tickets yesterday are regular players; others were tempted by the big jackpot.
“With Powerball so big, I had to play,” said Cyndi Chase, 52, of Haverhill. “I’m going to win; I have to win.”
Chase, who said she’s an occasional player, has never won more than $75. If she hits the jackpot tonight, she said, she will buy 18 acres for sale off Route 97 in Haverhill and start a farm.
Kim Hill, 52, of Methuen said she buys about 20 Powerball tickets a year, but never wins.
“I only buy them when there is a big jackpot,” she said. “If I win, I’m going to get on a yacht and people will have to fly in to see me. I will be out of the country by midnight.”
At Discount Stateline Store, owner Kamal Patel said he had sold 300 Powerball tickets by noon, far more than the 40 to 50 he typically sells.
McMann said ticket sales were so brisk, the jackpot was raised from $350 million to $360 million at midday.
Store owners and managers anticipate a rush on tickets today. The $2 tickets will be sold until 9:50 p.m.
“Tomorrow, there will be a lot of people here,” said Corey St. Marie, manager of Stateline Paysaver. “They think if they wait until the last minute, they will win. People have their superstitions.”
McCann said it was too early to tell if the surge in sales nationwide would mean the jackpot would eclipse the second-largest pot. That was $365 million, won by eight co-workers in Nebraska in February 2006.
The winner of tonight’s jackpot can receive a one-time cash payout of $229.2 million. More than 11,800 people who played Powerball in New Hampshire on Saturday won $66,000 in prize money.