Utahns continue to flood neighboring states to purchase Powerball tickets

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 00:33:36-05

MALAD, Idaho -- If you ever wanted to retire and buy that private island you've always dreamed about, now is your chance.

The Powerball Lottery is expected to reach a record $1.4 billion by the next drawing on Wednesday and Utahns are flocking to surrounding states to buy tickets.

The cash comes piling in, while the Powerball tickets come zooming out. The lines keep going, and going and going, all the way out the door at KJ's Super Stores in Malad, Idaho.

"In the last four days starting with Thursday we have done as much in lotto sales as we did the full month of December," said Manager Gregg Green.

Green said the store was expanded three years ago to handle these big Jack pots, but they never expected it to reach $1 billion.

"We have eight cash registers so we can run specific lines just for lottery and two lines just for merchandise customers," Green said.

Green estimates 99 percent of the customers are from Utah.

"We kind of built this whole thing around the fact that we are banking on Utah will never have a lottery in that state that's what we are planning on and that's what we are hoping for," Green said.

Sandra Husby drove all the way from Sandy for a chance to become a billionaire.

"I wish that Utah did have a lottery it would bring a lot of revenue to the state of Utah," Husby said.

Many Utahns are bringing back tickets for friends, family and co-workers. Travis Hilkey purchased 440 numbers for the men and women at Hill Air Force Base.

"I have come up the last couple of draws,” Hilkey said. “It’s gotten to the point where it would be ridiculous not to outlay a very small amount for the potential of a huge windfall."

Right next door, Me-N-Lou's restaurant is one of several Malad businesses where employees are working overtime to handle all the visitors.

"It has been crazy busy, it has probably doubled our normal clientele," said Dusty Smith.

Most Utahns would have never crossed the state line, if not for the chance of striking it rich.

"We've played the lottery probably twice in our life," said Patty Galloway, of Ogden. "We are hoping to win so we can buy a house boat at Lake Powell."