The record $550 million Powerball jackpot was keeping clerks busy Wednesday at metro-east gas stations and convenience stores.
"Everyone is buying one, even customers who usually don't buy one," said Sarah Mercer, a clerk at ZX gas station at 810 S. Morrison Ave. in Collinsville.
She sold about 100 tickets during her shifts the past two days.
"I have sold a bunch of them," she said. "It only takes one."
The numbers drawn Wednesday night are: 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6.
The drawing Wednesday night for the Multi-State Lottery Association's prize followed 16 consecutive drawings that produced no top winner, boosting the Powerball to become the second-largest potential lottery payout in U.S. history. Powerball officials say they believe there is a 75 percent chance the winning combination was drawn Wednesday.
Tickets earlier in the day were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide, the mega-jackpot enticing many people who rarely, if ever, play the lottery.
James McCain bought one Wednesday morning at the Collinsville station. The 29-year-old Collinsville resident said if he won, he would help his friends and family.
"I would take care of them, all of them," McCain said.
In O'Fallon, Sharon Tutor decided this was a good time to buy her first lottery ticket, which she bought Wednesday morning at MotoMart at 970 W. Highway 50 in O'Fallon.
"I never play," Tutor said.
And if she won?
"I'd have a heart attack."
Dave Gaither, 62, of Collinsville, said he would retire.
"And I would help my children retire, too," he said.
"I would pay off a lot of bills," said Betty Rheinecker, of Lebanon.
Belleville resident Tarayn Riley buys lottery tickets often. She bought two Powerball tickets Wednesday morning from Midwest Petroleum, 420 Carlyle Ave. in Belleville. She said she would help others if she was a winner.
"I would give some of it to charity," she said.
Kendra Hayes, of Collinsville, usually buys scratch-off lottery tickets, but decided to play for the big jackpot. She has big plans if she wins.
"I would take care of my family," Hayes said. "I would buy them all houses, cars, pay their bills, everything."
Powerball is a 33-state lottery that includes Missouri and Illinois. It draws five white balls from a drum of 59 and one red ball out of a drum of 35.
Taking the cash instead of a multi-year payout would yield $360.2 million before taxes.
Alex Leuty, assistant general manager at MotoMart in O'Fallon, said the large jackpots always draw customers.
"Oh yes, last night we were super busy," Leuty said. "A lot of people who usually don't play will come to buy one."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.