Big dreamers swarm area service stations for Powerball tickets

$1.4 billion lotto jackpot is largest ever in U.S.

A customer at a Mobil station in Walker's Point buys a Powerball ticket Tuesday. Milwaukee area service stations have been swarmed by lottery players hoping to win the record $1.4 billion jackpot.

Wednesday’s drawing for the $1.4 billion Powerball jackpot, the largest U.S. lottery prize ever, is boosting foot traffic at Milwaukee area gas stations.

Heather Floyd-Gabrysiak, the store manager at Wauwatosa Mobil, reported an increase in customer traffic that is five or six times its normal amount. She also said the store is selling ten times more Powerball tickets than usual.

The Powerball rush has increased the store’s operational costs because more staff had to be brought in to handle the customer surge, according to Floyd-Gabrysiak.

A customer at a Mobil station in Walker's Point buys a Powerball ticket Tuesday. Milwaukee area service stations have been swarmed by lottery players hoping to win the record $1.4 billion jackpot.
A customer at a Mobil station in Walker’s Point buys a Powerball ticket Tuesday. Milwaukee area service stations have been swarmed by lottery players hoping to win the record $1.4 billion jackpot.

Wauwatosa Mobil gains six percent of every $2 lottery ticket sold. “(The lottery sales increase) is not boosting other sales but it is keeping us going,” Floyd-Gabrysiak said.

Employees at other gas stations in the area reported that they get between two percent and 10 percent of the sale proceeds from each Powerball ticket sale.

Saturday night’s $949.8 million jackpot drawing had no winner and, as a result, contributed to the current record-breaking amount, boosting Powerball ticket purchases.

Kaitlin Gallagher, an employee at a BP in Fox Point said the store sold $10,000 worth of Powerball tickets last weekend, a major increase from the usual $500.

Customers recently buying Powerball tickets apparently deviate from the stores’ weekly players.

“I’ve been with the store for five years and people I’ve never even seen before are buying them,” said the co-manager of a Greenfield Avenue Speedway store in Milwaukee who declined to share her name.

Store employees and managers, such as Adman Hamad of Oklahoma Avenue Marathon in Milwaukee, often need to explain the game’s rules to first-time Powerball players who hope to have a shot at the jackpot.

Despite Powerball’s sudden popularity, gas stations continue to sell other lottery games such as Mega Millions, Pick 3 and Pick 4.

“The same people are still playing the other games but new customers are playing Powerball,” said Bill Bulck, employee at Lake Bluff Shell in Milwaukee.

But some gas station managers or employees said sales from other games are decreasing as customers choose to play Powerball.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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