Saturday November 24, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Deb Larkin walked out of the Lipton Mart on Elm Street with a newspaper, a bite-sized chocolate confection, and what she -- like so many others across 44 states -- hopes is the winning Powerball lottery ticket.

With the multi-state Powerball lottery at a staggering $325 million -- the fourth-largest in the game's history, Larkin said after buying a ticket that she could easily imagine herself living out in the serene California desert, within driving distance of Los Angeles whenever she was tempted for some recreational fun.

"You can go out in your car and be in Southern California in a short time while enjoying the solitude of the desert," Larkin fancifully said after some prodding about what she would want.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, Larkin could pay off family hospital bills, provide something nice to her co-workers at Berkshire County Arc -- perhaps a new car for each of them -- and then take her family and extended family off to a trip to Hawaii, before whisking off to the West Coast to live out her dream life.

"I generally don't buy this stuff," said Larkin, who spent $6 on three tickets.

Lipton Mart Store Manager Brian Yerrick on the 200 block of Elm Street said the sales figures at the store show that there are plenty of others beside Larkin who would like to win the jackpot.

"Oh yeah, definitely, on the day of the raffle the sales, they double," Yerrick said.

He expected sales to be brisk today.


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"I am sure [today] there will be people here buying tickets," Yerrick said. "Sometimes they'll come in and buy $100 worth. There will be pools at work and they'll put in a pot of $40. I am pretty sure [it] will be quite busy."

The jackpot is within striking distance of the largest pot ever recorded: $365 million in February 2006, according to a spokes person from the Massa chusetts Lottery -- or a single winner's cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes.

Earlier this year, the second-largest Powerball payout was recorded at $336 million.

Between the 5 percent for state and the 25 percent for federal withholdings, total sales tax would be approximately $91 million, the state lottery spokesperson said.

Twenty percent of funds go back to local cities and towns. Last year, Pittsfield received $7.3 million out of $834 million that was invested in local communities.

Yerrick hears the buzz, but he hasn't bought himself a ticket.

"The chances to win are next to nil," he said.

The Massachusetts Lottery statistics support his statement. According to the Massachu setts state lottery website, the chances of winning are 1 in 175,223,510.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of people willing to risk $2 -- or in many cases more -- for a chance, no matter how slim it might be.

Jennifer Falls made a trip to the store for her 59-year-old mother who asked her to make the stop.

Her 14-year-old son, Justin, who tagged along, said if he won the money he knows precisely what he would do with it.

He'd give it to an orphanage.

"They don't have enough money and they don't have nice clothes or toys to play with."

Top three Powerball jackpots.

February 2006: $365 million

October 2005: $340 million

February 2012: $336 million

The Powerball winner would have a wealth of options to purchase with $325 million, but here are a few recent hundred million dollar transactions that one could contemplate:

n Renowned artist Jackson Pollock's "No. 5, 1948" was sold by Hollywood entertainment magnate David Geffen for about $140 million in 2006.

n Salary for the 2012 Boston Red Sox roster was $146,371,619.

n Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan changed its name to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai after receiving $200 million from business magnate Carl Icahn.

n Starbucks Corp. bought bakery chain La Boulange, which has 19 locations in the San Francisco Bay area, for $100 million.

n AOL Inc. purchased the Huffington Post, a well-known news and opinion site, for $315 million.