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Vermonters catch Powerball fever - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermonters catch Powerball fever

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COLCHESTER, Vt. -

At Maplefields in Colchester, Powerball tickets are flying out of the store, with printing from the Powerball register up 20 times more than normal.

"It's been crazy," said McKenzie McNull of Maplefields. "It's probably the most Powerball tickets we've ever sold."

Nationally, lottery officials say 100,000 tickets are being sold every single minute. For a cash payout this big, for many, it seems unimaginable.

"It's hard to believe," said Veronica Dragon, a Powerball player. "It should be shared, definitely shared."

Dragon hopes to pick her multimillion dollar destiny by selecting numbers that for her hold special meaning.

"How many years we've been married, our birthdays, my grandkids' birthdays," she said.

Pay, then point, shoot and email is the method for Mike Antonioli. He and each of his co-workers are buying 15 tickets for a company pool. He says with his method no one can run and hide if there's a winner in the group.

"I take a picture of those and I email those to everyone in the company," Antonioli said. "So everyone knows what our numbers are so we don't get into that McDonald's thing in Pennsylvania."

The $550 million estimated jackpot is a new record for the game. If you choose the lump sum, you'd walk away with almost $350 million-- pretax, that is. The federal government takes about 25 percent off the top, and the state takes an average of 5 to 7 percent, as well.

"With any luck at all I'll have a safe deposit box by morning," said Linda Langlois, a Powerball player.

No matter how you slice it, the winner will have plenty of wealth to spread around-- one man playing his lotto luck even promised to share with me and WCAX News photographer Joe Carroll.

"I said I'd buy you guys Hummers and verbal is binding," Jeff Leyden said.

Since the game started in Vermont in 2003 there's never been a jackpot winner in Vermont. But you don't actually have to hit the jackpot to win big. Since this jackpot started accumulating in October there have been 40 new millionaires nationwide who matched five out of six numbers. And you know what they say-- you can't win if you don't play.

Lottery sales help the state education fund and a spike in sales like this may help Vermont schools. With all the lottery games combined, the Vermont lottery contributes about $22 million a year to the state education fund. But the lottery commissioner estimates this boom since Saturday could bring an extra $125,000.

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