Beth Johnston, co-owner of Vic and Whit’s sandwich shop in Saco, sells a man a Powerball ticket Monday afternoon. With the Powerball jackpot higher than ever, local stores are reporting a swell in ticket sales.

Beth Johnston, co-owner of Vic and Whit’s sandwich shop in Saco, sells a man a Powerball ticket Monday afternoon. With the Powerball jackpot higher than ever, local stores are reporting a swell in ticket sales.

YORK COUNTY — With the Powerball lottery jackpot at a record-breaking $1.4 billion, stores in York County are seeing luck-lusting customers ­– many newcomers to lottery games – buying tickets in droves.

“We’re selling more tickets than we are sandwiches,” Mark Johnston, co-owner of Vic and Whit’s sandwich shop on Main Street in Saco, said Monday. “We’ve been seeing long lines and excited people – people that are dreaming.”

One thing in particular Johnston has noticed is a large number of first-time buyers.

“People who would never have even thought of spending $2 (on a Powerball ticket) are now spending $20, $30, $50,” he said.

Other stores in the area have been experiencing the same Powerball frenzy.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Peter DiPietrantonio, co-owner of Three D’s Variety Store on Main Street in Biddeford. “You can tell many have never played too, and they have no clue (how to play).”

DiPietrantonio saw the most customers on Saturday, ahead of a Powerball drawing for which nobody had all six winning numbers. He expects just as many – if not more – customers to make purchases on Wednesday, the day of the next drawing.

“I’m hoping somebody does win,” he said.

Folks in rural parts of the county are getting in on the action too.

Roxanne Stover, who works at the Alfred Country Store, has seen a swell in sales of Powerball tickets over last two weeks, and has spoken with many first-time buyers.

“People are saying, ‘I’ve never played before, but my friends and my family are telling me I have to play,’” she said.

According to store owners, the record-setting jackpot is having an effect in other ways as well, such as calling attention to other lottery games and brightening customers’ moods.

Vic and Whit’s co-owner Beth Johnston said sales of non-Powerball lottery tickets are up at her store.

“I think it’s making people more conscious of the fact that there is the potential to win these games,” she said. “To me, it’s worth the $2 just for the fun of playing.”

In an email this morning, Maura Herlihy, co-owner of Eastside Convenience on High Street in Sanford, said the best thing about a large Powerball jackpot is the interaction she has with customers, who are often in good spirits as they dream about winning big.

“Most know the long odds are against them, but it is fun to dream about what you would do with the money,” said Herlihy. “The conversations with customers around that dream are fun and highly interactive.”

Although only two customers trickled into Vic and Whit’s seeking Powerball tickets during a roughly 30-minute stretch Monday afternoon, both owners said many more came a couple of hours earlier during the lunch hour.

“You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket,” one woman, who declined to be identified, said as she purchased tickets for herself and her daughter, who lives overseas.

The scene was busier at Circle K on Alfred Street in Biddeford this morning, as four people purchased tickets in a 15-minute period.

Mike Phillips, who lives in New Hampshire and drives throughout New England for work, said he would “put (his) kids through college and pay (his) bills” if he were to win the $1.4 billion.

Phillips said he buys $6 in lottery tickets in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts two times a week. Although he wins from time to time, the prize has never been very large, he said – “usually just small change, enough to play again.”

The Associated Press has reported that every state is seeing a boost in Powerball ticket sales. From Jan. 6-9, $900 million in tickets were sold, according to the AP.

The odds of winning? One in more than 292 million.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: