In the six weeks since the California Lottery put Powerball into play, the game has generated about $70 million in ticket sales statewide.
With Powerball touting a $360 million jackpot today and $170 million in Tuesday night's Mega Millions jackpot, even people who have never tried their luck at the big money have been buying tickets.
"It's been really busy. We've had up to 50 people in line," said Devinder Sahota, owner of Antelope Food and Gas, at Antelope and Walerga roads. "This is the lucky spot."
The store hasn't had any big-money winners among its patrons, but plenty of customers have collected smaller winnings, said Sahota, who figures that someone among his clientele is due to hit a jackpot.
Kien Lo, manager of Lichine's Liquor & Deli in Sacramento's South Land Park neighborhood, said ticket purchases had been steady all day Tuesday, with eight to 10 people lined up at any given time.
"It's all about Powerball," he said.
Alex Hernandez stopped by Lichine's shortly before 6 p.m. to purchase a Powerball ticket for the first time.
"I've heard that if you put the numbers in yourself, you have a better chance of winning," he said.
Hernandez said he doesn't gamble much, but he figured spending $2 for a chance to win $360 million was a worthwhile investment.
Dan Sierra was buying scratchers Tuesday. "I'll probably buy a Powerball ticket tomorrow," he said. "But just one."
Ernest Culpepper said he was buying a Mega Millions ticket Tuesday "on a hunch." "I normally do scratchers," he said.
Alex Traverso, California Lottery spokesman, called two huge jackpots at the same time "the perfect storm," and one he hopes will generate big money for California schools.
During fiscal year 2011-12, the California Lottery raised $1.32 billion for schools, he said, and that was before Powerball was added. In general, he said, each dollar of ticket sales for any of the lottery games generates about 30 cents for schools. "Powerball sales have been fantastic," Traverso said.
The sale of Mega Millions tickets declined somewhat with the introduction of Powerball, but with the $170 million Mega Millions jackpot, "it makes up ground rather quickly," Traverso said.
Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays, and Powerball drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Traverso said he would like to see California residents win the jackpots, but he wouldn't mind drawing out the suspense to raise a little more revenue.
There was no jackpot winner Tuesday night, so the Mega Millions top prize will increase to $190 million for Friday's drawing. Traverso said the Powerball jackpot could be close to a half- billion come Saturday if no one wins tonight.
Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.