ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - New Mexicans are feeling the power of the Powerball.
City sales soared as the jackpot increased, but will those sales help the ailing state lottery scholarship that's helped more than 75,000 students attend college?
"It started pretty early today," said Omar Cardoza a clerk selling tickets at a locally owned gas station on Rio Grande near Interstate 40. "We opened up at 5:30 this morning. We already had people waiting in line then, and that's how it's been all day."
Cardoza expected to sell around 3,000 tickets before Wednesdays 8:59 p.m. drawing, and he's not the only one. Another gas station in the Northeast Heights sold more than $500 worth of tickets in a little less than two hours Wednesday morning.
Lottery officials say they sold more than 4,000 tickets every minute in New Mexico. Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday lottery customers spent almost $800,000 on Powerball tickets.
That's about 400,000 individual tickets in just three hours.
Everyone has a plan for what they'd do with the money if they win.
"I would help the homeless people, help the homeless shelters and use it to help other people," said Pat Sylvester.
"I'd get a tax accountant, and get a house in a warmer climate," said Marlene Walker. She and Sylvester bought Powerball tickets at the Smiths on Wyoming NE near Paseo Del Norte. According to the state's lotto spokesperson said that location sells more lottery tickets than any other in the city of Albuquerque.
Customers say they go there to pick hopefully winning numbers because it's convenient.
At least 30-percent of all lottery ticket sales go to the state's struggling lottery scholarship program.
Overall lottery sales this year are down about $2 million from 2011 and down a whopping $17 million from six years ago. The scholarship program is facing a $5 million shortfall, and the Legislature is looking at tighter requirements.
If no one wins Wednesday's jackpot, the next one could jump as high $900 million. That drawing is Saturday.
In the meantime lottery officials do have a couple of tips for you. They say always sign the back of the ticket so no one else can claim your prize, especially before the drawing. And if you do win, make sure you seek financial advice before coming forward.
Online from KRQE.com: Check your lottery numbers »
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