By Doug Ireland
---- — There’s a first time for everything — even buying lottery tickets.
With a record $425 million Powerball jackpot up for grabs tomorrow, some local residents found themselves purchasing tickets for the first time yesterday.
Thoughts of early retirement, buying a multi-million-dollar mansion and paying off all their bills were on the minds of many Massachusetts and New Hampshire residents as they lined up at store counters to get tickets.
At Stateline Paysaver on South Broadway in Salem, there was a steady flow of customers throughout the day laying down their cash with the hope of becoming a multi-millionaire in the drawing tomorrow night. People also were stopping across the street at Discount Stateline Store and Borderline Convenience Store.
Stateline manager Steve Dardas said the store sold $500 worth of the $2 tickets yesterday morning alone as many people stopped off on their way to work. Dardas said he usually sells about one-quarter of that.
“Today was big, but (tomorrow) it will be out of control,” he said. “It would be nice to see someone win here.”
Ticket sales had dropped off by noon, but people, including Wayne Daniels, 50, of Methuen, were still coming into the store to test their luck. Daniels was one of several customers buying tickets for the first time, tempted by the opportunity to strike it rich, really rich.
“I’ve never bought a ticket in my life,” he said. “I’m not a gambler. If I win, I’ll buy some nice toys.”
That would include a new pickup truck, he said.
Steve Marshall, 56, of Lowell said he doesn’t usually buy lottery tickets and didn’t plan on purchasing a Powerball ticket.
But when he jokingly pointed at a sign in another store and said, “Four hundred twenty-five million dollars? I’ll take one of those.”
The clerk handed him a ticket and added $2 to his bill. Now, Marshall hopes to be a winner.
“I bought one without even realizing it,” he said. “Powerball is all I’ve been hearing about — it’s all over the radio.”
There are plenty of regular lottery players who are much more determined to win after nobody won the jackpot in the drawing Saturday.
“I’m in it to win it,” said George Santiago, 34, of Lawrence. “I would buy a big house, maybe two cars.”
Claire Bistany of Salem has seen a lot in her 84 years. Now, she just wants to see a winning ticket.
“I’ve never won in all my life,” she said. “It would be nice to win.”
Bistany is so confident, she only bought one ticket.
“One is all you need to win,” she said. “I have 15 great-grandchildren; I will split it with them.”
But the odds aren’t in her favor. The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175,223,510, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which regulates the game in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Juan Cabrera, 39, of Derry is also optimistic. He bought several Powerball tickets with $50 received from cashing in a winning Set for Life instant lottery ticket.
“If I get to win it, I will leave and go away, and come back in a year or two,” he said.
If Dan Talbot wins, the 46-year-old Reading construction worker doesn’t plan to retire early.
“I would keep working,” he said. “I would go out of my mind if I stayed home all day.”
The largest Powerball jackpot to date was $365 million, won by eight co-workers in Nebraska in February 2006, according to Maura McCann, spokeswoman for New Hampshire Lottery. The nation’s largest-ever lottery jackpot was $656 million, won by three people who played Mega Millions in March, McCann said.
New Hampshire Lottery sold nearly $2 million in Powerball tickets last week and expects to match that number before the drawing tomorrow night, McCann said. Tickets will be sold until 9:50 p.m. tomorrow.
Although no one won the jackpot Saturday, more than 2 million people across the nation did win $25.2 million in other prizes, McCann said. That included 16,000 people in New Hampshire, who won a total of almost $90,000 in prizes, she said.