Wisconsin lottery data show higher sales in lower income areas

Wisconsin residents are jumping at the chance to win a lottery jackpot of more than $1 billion .

The $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot — the largest ever — has players nationwide and in Madison scrambling to buy tickets before Tuesday night’s drawing.

While those hoping to cash in on the jackpot say it’s a small price to pay for a life-changing payout, others say the odds of matching their ticket to the winning numbers are too small to justify buying a ticket.

Those who have a ticket for Tuesday’s drawing will be up against odds of winning of about one in 302 million.

Despite that, Stoughton resident Jeff Lohman said he had already purchased three tickets for Tuesday’s drawing — or 35 fewer tickets than he bought for Friday’s $1 billion drawing.

Though he said he doesn’t often buy lottery tickets, he does when jackpots soar. Lohman said he bought 38 tickets from gas stations across Stoughton before Friday’s drawing.

“You can’t win unless you spend,” he said while pumping fuel into his truck at a South Side Madison Kwik Trip on Monday afternoon.

Tickets cost $2, and ticket sales in Wisconsin for Friday’s drawing totaled nearly $7 million, said Jean Adler, deputy director of the Wisconsin Lottery. That’s more than 17 percent of last year’s total Mega Millions statewide sales of more than $39 million.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, ticket sales had already reached $3.5 million, she said, adding that she expects sales for the Tuesday drawing to exceed Friday’s total.

“People are excited,” Adler said. “Our players love a large jackpot.”

She said she hopes those buying tickets are playing for entertainment and not to make money.

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Lohman, a maintenance worker for a Madison restaurant supply company, said the $1.6 billion prize would transform his life. He said he would quit his job and spend the money on a house, cars, trips and charity.

“Everyone says ‘I wouldn’t change a thing.’ It changes everything,” Lohman said. “It would change your life drastically.”

But for Fabioloa Rodriguez, of Fitchburg, there are better ways, like better saving strategies, to make money.

She said she isn’t much of a gambler and won’t buy a Mega Millions ticket.

“I don’t have any luck,” Rodriguez said. “I can multiply (my money) in other ways.”

Others at the South Side Kwik Trip said lotteries lead to magical, unrealistic thinking by players and are an unfortunate way for governments to make money.

But some, including regular players, said the lottery is an inexpensive and entertaining way to potentially win millions — or billions — of dollars.

Kelsey Steberg, of Middleton, said she rarely buys a lottery ticket, but probably would before Tuesday’s drawing because it’s too hard to ignore the buzz surrounding the jackpot.

“It’s exciting when it’s really high up,” Steberg said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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