NEWS

Lottery players willing to take the chance

PAT FRIDGEN
Roberto Martinez, Greencastle, buys a Cash 5 ticket from Wanda Houser at Earl's Market. The store sold a winning ticket in July, resulting in nearly $400,000 for a lucky area resident.

Earl's Market in State Line was buzzing Thursday morning, the day after a Chambersburg woman received a giant check for $395,686.50 from Pennsylvania Lottery officials. Barbara Jeannette was one of two winners in the July 27 Cash 5 drawing. The other person has yet to step forward to claim an equal payout. Because Jeanette bought her ticket at the store, Earl's received $500.

The grocery store has been participating in lottery ticket sales for over five years. Owner Joe Lesko estimates 400 tickets are purchased daily, often in multiples.

"Pennsylvania approached me," he said. "We're right on the border and Maryland doesn't have Powerball."

That game is the most popular with customers and drives the entire lottery, he added. The second game of choice is Cash 5. For both, people have the option of selecting their own numbers or letting the computer do it. Ticket prices range from $1 to $25 for the online or instant scratch games. Proceeds are earmarked for programs that benefit older Pennsylvanians, including property tax and rent rebates, transportation assistance, prescription drug programs, long-term care services and funding for senior centers.

Thursday afternoon was just another day at the grocery store, but cashier Wanda Houser was so busy with lottery sales, Lesko had to leave the meat department to check out the customers for a while. "The economy hasn't affected ticket sales," he said. "You'd think it would."

Hope against the odds and a spirit of fun put people in Houser's line. Most of them didn't have a clear picture of what they would do with the money if they hit the jackpot.

"I don't know," said Roberto Martinez, making his weekly stop. His grandson suggested buying a Lamborghini.

Ken Sigler said he would live it up. Pat Spies thought she would help out their children and fix up the house. Her husband Bob said, "Probably retire, but I like my work."

George F. Rubeck wasn't sure either. "I don't know. I really don't. Help my kids. You always have to take a chance."

Lesko agreed that's what it took. "There's no skill. It's just luck."