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Jackpot raises odds of longer lines

By Anthony Thornton Published: February 15, 2006
About 5 p.m. today, convenience store manager Ken Murk will reserve one of two customer lines for lottery sales, just as he has done each Wednesday and Saturday since mid-January.

The reason: Powerball.

Murk's routine has become more critical in the past couple weeks as drawing after drawing has passed without a jackpot winner.

His Conoco All Star store in north Oklahoma City sells $3,000 to $4,000 a week in Powerball tickets. Much of that comes during the three hours preceding the twice-weekly drawings at 9:59 p.m.

For tonight's drawing, the jackpot has grown to an estimated $300 million -- more than last year's profits of 153 Fortune 500 companies.

It's the third-biggest jackpot in Powerball's 14-year history.

The odds of winning the top prize remain the same -- 1 in roughly 146 million -- no matter the jackpot's size.

The next jackpot winner will be the first since Oklahoma joined the game Jan. 12. For Jim Scroggins, that fact has been manna.

The director of Oklahoma's lottery had seen a two-thirds drop-off in total weekly sales between mid-October and early January, despite the introduction of a computerized game called Pick 3.

Interest seemed to have leveled off before Jan.

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