$500 million Powerball jackpot tempts hopeful winners

People have come from as far as Montgomery and Dothan, Ala., to Villa Nova Beverages in Columbus. It's not for the Jack Daniel's.

It's to play the lottery.

The store is at the intersection of Victory Drive and Second Avenue and is one of the first businesses you see when crossing the Oglethorpe Bridge from Alabama into Georgia.

Night manager Andrew Patton said Villa Nova ranks among the very top stores in the state for lottery sales.

With the Powerball Jackpot reaching $500 million, there has been a steady stream of customers purchasing the $2 tickets for tonight's drawing.

"The day of the drawing is when we see the most people," Patton said. "I don't know why. Some people think they have to buy it on that day. Some like to procrastinate. It can get a little crazy around here."

The bigger the jackpot, the more customers. He said there may be a line from the counter at one end of the store to the counter at the other.

"To say there is a line out the door would be a stretch," he said.

The store has had at least one big winner. One man won more than $2 million in a scratch-off game. Patton said he definitely will purchase a Powerball ticket.

Clifford Brown bought three Tuesday at Villa Nova.

Brown said he only plays the lottery "once in a blue moon," but since the Powerball jackpot reached $325 million, he has played more often.

"No system," he replied when asked how he made his selections. "My mama just gave me some numbers."

Brown, 39, said he is out of work, having been laid off.

As for his chances of winning, he knows they are slim. The Georgia Lottery Corporation lists them as 1 in 175 million. Still, he wants his chance.

"Somebody is going to win. Why not me?" he said.

Terrell Davis, 29, is a barber in Phenix City. He bought five tickets Tuesday at Villa Nova.

"Ten dollars for a chance to win millions. That's not so bad," Brown said.

He plays the lottery about once a month. Brown prefers playing the scratch-off games and has won as much as $500 on a ticket.

As for picking numbers, he said he often notices some on a clock or sign that he hasn't noticed before and goes with them.

According to the Georgia Lottery Corp. the jackpot has rolled 15 times since Oct. 6. The $500 million Powerball jackpot is the second largest in Georgia Lottery history, behind the historic world record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March.

Powerball offers two payment options: the $500 million jackpot prize paid over 29 years in 30 graduated payments or the cash option which is approximately $327 million.