PHOENIX -- Chance Hart bought a Powerball ticket Monday at his usual spot, the Fuel Stop 101 in midtown. He said he's been buying lottery tickets regularly for ages, but with the jackpot at $425 million -- the largest in history -- he's hoping this time will finally be his lucky break.
"I'd retire my whole family, help out a lot of friends and give a lot of it away," he said.
Lanae Muldrow, manager of the gas station, said the store sold 470 Powerball tickets Sunday, far above normal daily sales of around 50. That's due in part due to first-timers drawn in by the big bucks.
"Times are hard right now and it pulls at the lucky heartstrings of people," she said.
In January, the price of Powerball tickets rose from $1 to $2 apiece, fueling larger jackpots. As of October, sales of multi-state jackpot games like Powerball and Mega Millions were up 13 percent from last year. But as Monday morning, Powerball sales were up 30 percent from last year, according to the Arizona lottery.
"It's really exciting because the lottery benefits so many people in Arizona," said Arizona Lottery spokeswoman Karen Bach, noting that about 25 percent of sales support programs approved by the Legislature.
Terry Rich, a spokesman for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates the Powerball, said jackpots in the hundreds of millions aren't a fluke. Raising the ticket price to $2 is creating bigger jackpots faster and more money for participating states.
"Now it takes a couple of hundred million to get people to play," he said. "Increasing the cost was a way to really differentiate the product."
At Fuel Stop 101, Hart said he has also noticed an increase in the number of people playing.
"When it gets this large, the lines are just off the chart," he said.