High Ticket Sales in Mississippi for Mega Millions and Powerball Launch

Monday February 3rd 2020

Mississippi players have welcomed the launch of Mega Millions and Powerball in the state on Thursday, buying over half a million dollars' worth of tickets on the first day of sales.

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Excited Magnolia State players lined up outside retailers before sunrise as tickets went on sale at 3:00 am CST on January 30.

Ticket sales on Thursday were more than 200% higher than expected. "Powerball and Mega Millions combined sales were $516,986. This is slightly over double of what we expected for jackpots at the current levels," said Mississippi Lottery Corporation President Tom Shaheen. "Mississippians sent a resounding message that they were glad both games are here."

There are approximately 1,500 approved lottery retailers around the state, who make a commission on the tickets they sell, plus a bonus if they sell a winning ticket. The number of approved retailers is expected to grow substantially as applications that have been submitted are processed and retailers undergo training in using the lottery machines.

State Sen. Philip Moran, author of the lottery bill, kicked things off early Thursday morning with a ceremonial first purchase of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets at Keith's Superstore in the town of Pass Christian on the state's southern coast.

"We’re looking forward to many years of folks being able to buy their Powerball tickets here, Mega Millions, without having to go across state lines like we’ve all done for so many times,” Moran commented.

“Our great citizens in the great state of Mississippi are able to buy their tickets at home and more importantly be able to keep the money in the state. The money generated will fund infrastructure and education,” he said.

Moran expects the sales of lottery tickets to outshine the scratch-offs that launched on November 25, 2019. "These numbers will eclipse the scratch-offs tremendously," he said. "It won't take long at all to surpass the amount that the scratch-offs made in the first week, because more people like to play the lottery itself."

Retailer Ricky Singh agrees. "I think it's going to overtake the scratch-offs, because everybody is trying to hit that jackpot," he said, adding that he hopes one lucky winner comes from the store he owns, the RaceWay in Jackson.

More than $2.5 million in scratch-offs were sold on the first day. Scratch-offs offer prizes between $2,000 and $200,000, whereas Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots start at $40 million and regularly reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Tupelo, Ken Wilson stopped by Gameday Haircuts and Spa on Thursday for two reasons: to get a haircut, and pick up a some lottery tickets. He supports the use of lottery funds to improve the state's aging roads and bridges.

And of course, there's also the chance he might win the jackpot. "I know it's a slim possibility, but I'm going to take that chance, and buy a ticket. We have a big family, we have four kids. I would keep working, try and stay humble, and be the same person, put that money back for kids and grandkids, and help people, I love helping people," he said.

Gameday Haircuts and Spa is the only hair salon in Mississippi that sells lottery tickets. They began offering scratch-off tickets when the lottery launched in November, and owner Adam Watson says customers are excited about the launch of Mega Millions and Powerball.

"It's the traditional lottery game, it's as simple as a $2 Quick Pick, you tell us you want a Quick Pick, or pick numbers yourself, how much money you want to spend and then we print you out a ticket and hopefully you watch the drawing and you cash in millions of dollars," Watson said.

The lottery has brought in more customers to the salon too, he says. "Since the lottery began in November, our business has picked up tremendously, to the point where we have added a few stylists to keep up with the demand."

In Pascagoula, near Biloxi, dozens of players kept cash registers ringing as they tried their luck with the new tickets. "We need it [the lottery]. The roads are bad, some of the schools need upgrades so this should be a drastic asset to Jackson County," customer Dwight Peters said.

"I think it's a great thing because we don't have to travel distances to try to buy tickets and it's also bringing money into our school district so I think that's great," said another player, Tracey Davidson.

At the Sonoco store on North Hills Street in Meridian, people were lined up before sunrise to buy tickets. "They were here at six," said cashier Michelle Silliman. She doesn't believe that the enthusiasm will quiet down anytime soon. "We're very excited to have this. It has boosted our business," she said.

Over $80 million has been generated from scratch-off tickets since November 25, of which $44 million has been paid out as prizes. The Mississippi Lottery Corporation made its first funds transfer of $7,621,232.37 to the state on January 22.

Visit the Mississippi Lottery page for more information on what the lottery money will be used for and upcoming game launches to look out for this year.

For more information on how to play in the Magnolia State, check out these Powerball and Mega Millions FAQs.

The Mega Millions jackpot for the next drawing on Tuesday, February 4 is $168 million. Powerball will be drawn on Wednesday, February 5; the jackpot stands at $50 million.

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