Carrie Rengers

Powerball tickets aren’t necessarily a boon for convenience stores

The predicted jackpot for Saturday's Powerball drawing rose to $900 million, according to the Kansas Lottery. (Jan. 9, 2016)
The predicted jackpot for Saturday's Powerball drawing rose to $900 million, according to the Kansas Lottery. (Jan. 9, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Kansas Lottery officials report that during the busiest ticket sales times for Wednesday’s $528.5 million drawing, which was from 5 to 6 p.m., Kansans were paying $5,315 per minute.

You might think that translates into big wins for convenience stores, but QuikTrip’s Mike Thornbrugh says it’s not so.

“Yeah, you sell a lot of tickets, but it’s a low-margin item,” he says.

Also, he says, “Your stores take a beating.”

He says clerks are too busy with the frenzy of Powerball sales to do normal cleaning and stocking, so QuikTrip has to bring in extra employees.

Even then, Thornbrugh says, “I feel sorry for our people.”

He says for the majority of tickets, they have to hit a button on the Powerball machine over and over that randomly selects numbers for customers.

“Their index fingers are probably swollen.”

Though a lot of people let the machine pick their numbers, Thornbrugh says others have very particular selection methods.

“Some people bring in their little deal from fortune cookies,” he says of the fortunes that offer lucky numbers.

“Don’t underestimate how some people think these things through.”

Thornbrugh can’t say if buyers are likely to get luckier picking their own numbers or letting the machine do it.

“I don’t have a clue.”

He does have some advice before the next drawing at 9:59 p.m. Saturday for a record $700 million, which will have a cash option of $428.4 million if someone wins it.

Don’t wait to hit QuikTrip or other convenience stores to buy tickets in the final hours before the drawing.

“They’re going to absolutely get slammed.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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