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Who's Buying Lottery Tickets?


Did we happen to mention the Powerball jackpot is up to almost a billion dollars? It's the biggest prize in U.S. history, big enough to get the attention of people who say they've never bought a lottery ticket before in their lives. Case in point, our staff - they practically forced me to create an office pool. What could I do? So we went to pick up our tickets at a couple of vendors near the office. And while we were there, we talked to a few people who were also there with the same prize in mind. In line, I met Angela Moses. She said she rarely plays the lottery. But this year, the hype and the payout were just too big to ignore.

ANGELA MOSES: It's everywhere and everyone's talking about it, so it makes you just want to come out and give it a try, even though you don't usually do this.

MARTIN: Well, what are you going to do if you win?

MOSES: Find a very good investment firm to give me some instructions and probably go on a trip and pay off some college tuition.

MARTIN: Sounds like a plan, sounds very responsible.

MOSES: Yes, yes. Well, if you read all about it, it tells you about all the people who lose all their money in the first five years, and I would never want to be one of those people (laughter).


MARTIN: Interestingly enough, some of the more seasoned lottery players seemed unfazed by the record pool. Luther Ruth said he plays whenever it's convenient and that the size of the prize has nothing to do with it.

LUTHER RUTH: You can't spend it all, so it doesn't mean anything. It's the same as 100 million to me.

MARTIN: But Edward Tan bought five tickets because he just didn't want to miss out.

EDWARD TAN: This is the biggest in the nation, right, in history, right? Yeah, it's all over the news. I'm going to take this one, all right? (Laughter).

MARTIN: Meanwhile, the lottery-ticket machine was busy at work, pumping out the tickets for the steady stream of would-be multimillionaires. Even the manager of one store we visited, Capital City Wine and Spirits' Damien Glascon couldn't resist getting in on the action.

DAMIEN GLASCON: Because if I can win and don't have to work anymore, that'll be a definite plus.

MARTIN: Well, what are your plans? What's your plan?

GLASCON: First thing I'd do is come in and lock the doors down, and me and my buddies will start popping these bottles open (laughter). It's a celebration, you know? That would be the first thing...

MARTIN: (Laughter) What's going to be the beverage of choice?

GLASCON: We'll go up there with the top shelves (laughter).

MARTIN: Not if we get there first.


BARRETT STRONG: (Singing) The best things in life are free, but you give them to the birds and bees. I need money. That's what I want. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.