One nation under Powerball — now $550M

Posted: November 29, 2012

Nothing unites America like a gigantic lottery jackpot.

Tuesday in Pennsylvania, more than 3,000 Powerball tickets were being printed each minute, according to state lottery spokeswoman Lauren Piccolo.

Nationwide, superheated sales pushed the jackpot to a game record $550 million for tonight's drawing.

It's lotto fever reminiscent of March, when Mega Millions kept upping its jackpot to set the all-time U.S. record of $656 million.

This morning, at the Wegman's supermarket in Cherry Hill, Frank Noga of Havertown was buying a stack of the $2 tickets for a group of 23 Campbell Soup workers -- $346 worth.

The group plays whenever the jackpot gets over $100 million, he said, though the most they've won so far was last week's haul of $116.

Every penny went back into this drawing.

If he wins, Noga, 55, plans to retire to someplace warm, he said.

The line began forming even before the service counter opened, and hours later a steady stream of customers kept arriving. A man holding 20s while pushing a toddler in a shopping cart. A woman clutching a couple of 5s. Young and old. The well-dressed as well the sweatsuit-attired.

One immaculately groomed woman was filling out forms, buying tickets for a friend.

Penny Schmidt of Haddon Heights bought 67 tickets for a seven people with the family plumbing business, plus another 10 for herself.

Don't worry, all the tickets will be carefully photocopied to prevent problems, she said.

Her sister, Robin Scardino of Audubon, said, "I bought two, but I bought two winning tickets."

Wegman's declined to share sales figures, except to say they've quite brisk, especially the last two days, according to corporate spokeswoman Jo Natale.

Down the road, at the Cherry Hill News Agency, two health-care professionals said they were each buying just five tickets.

Dan Kreitzer of Washington Township said his kids helped pick the numbers, and though he wasn't optimistic, a win would mean he could pay off debts, buy a bigger house and put this kids through college.

Ken Romani of Cherry Hill said he'd help his sister start a camp for kids with special needs.

His number-picking scheme?

"Mine's morbid," he said. "I'm playing my deceased parents' birthdays, It should help to have someone on the other side."


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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