Powerball fever is sweeping the nation, and Utah residents who want their chance at the historic jackpot are crossing the state border to buy their tickets before Wednesday’s drawing.
According to local news affiliate KUTV, the most popular destination for Utahns looking to play Powerball is Malad, ID, a tiny city of just 2,200.
While some Malad business owners are welcoming the new customers with open arms, others are a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who have suddenly descended upon their quaint town.
“They bring their kids in. Their kids help themselves to everything they can get in our store. We got kids stuff there all the time. And what do they do? They just go help themselves,” said Keith Atkinson, the owner of KC’s Oil.
Oneida County Sheriff Jeff Simrad called a meeting with local business owners and law enforcement on Sunday to prepare Malad for the high number of lottery hopefuls coming in from surrounding states.
“This is a huge influx of people. And we’ve had issues with parking, with lines of people and trying to keep everybody safe,” said Simrad.
“In our job, we always plan for the worst and hope for the best. And that’s what we’re doing today,” Simrad added. “These last few days, actually, it’s been really good. The people have been patient, they’ve been respectful, and so far it’s gone really well.”
About 76% of Americans are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, and millions of people across the country are looking to strike gold on Wednesday and escape their own financial rat race.
If the previous Powerball jackpot of approximately $950 million didn’t convince some Utahns to travel out-of-state for tickets, perhaps the new grand prize will.
According to The Detroit News, lottery officials project the next Powerball jackpot to be a whopping $1.4 billion. It will be the largest jackpot in human history.
“Biggest jackpot in the history of the world. Absolutely confirmed,” said Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief.
As for business owners in Malad, it seems as if petty theft is more of a concern than disorderly conduct. To combat this, Atkinson is hoping that law enforcement will stop by his store every now and then to make sure things are running smoothly.
“If the cops would come in every half hour and just walk through with their badges on and just show ’em, I think people will be more honest,” said Atkinson.
Considering store owners get a hefty payout of their own if they sell a winning Powerball ticket, it’s safe to say that Atkinson and his peers would trade a few stolen Slim Jims for a cut of the largest jackpot ever.