Chicagoans look to win $550 million Powerball jackpot

Convenience stores got last minute rushes as people lined up for a chance to take home the jackpot

November 28, 2012

Judith Ruiz-Branch & Greta Johnsen

The $550 million Powerball jackpot has sparked a nationwide lotto frenzy.

The jackpot deadline prompted many who seldom gamble, if ever, to run out to the nearest convenience stores and snag a ticket.

Here in Chicago, people lined up in droves.

Two 7-eleven convenience stores downtown got hit with a late afternoon rush on Wednesday as people, like Tiffany Cleary, spent their last buck at a chance to win big.

“This is my last money before I get paid,” Cleary said. “This is all I have until payday.”

For other customers like Bobby Talley, it’s just a matter of persistence.

“I’m feeling lucky today,” Talley said. “I’ve been playing the same number for 30 years.”

And of course, most ticket buyers have dreams of quitting their jobs after they hit the jackpot like Molly Garris. She and a group of her co-workers pulled together to buy fifty dollars worth of tickets.

“We are absolutely going to win powerball tonight,” Garris said. “I can’t wait to quit my job tomorrow, it’s going to be the best moment of my life.”

But these lotto enthusiasts should take heed to some advice from a former jackpot winner.

Wesley Martin of Palatine won 3.75 million dollars last year.

“Don’t let it change your life,” Martin said. “Live your life as you always have been and don’t let anyone talk you into anything.”

Martin says he played the lottery for twenty years, so he was ready when he eventually won at the age of 65.

And if you do lose, consider this-- in Illinois, about 82 cents of each two-dollar ticket is donated to a common school fund or to help with bridges and roads.