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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mega Millions winning ticket dreams draw lotto players to Spokane sellers

The Mega Millions jackpot is approaching a potential record-breaking total of more than $1.5 billion for the drawing to take place Tuesday.   (Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS)

Don’t tell Sonnenberg’s employee Dave Englehart the odds of winning Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing.

“The odds are anything,” Englehart, who paused momentarily while fulfilling a customer’s carryout order in the landmark East Central meat market Sunday morning. “You can pick your own numbers and still not hit it.”

Many won’t hit it Tuesday night when Mega Millions draws another winning ticket for its potential record-breaking jackpot, estimated at $1.5 billion. The numbers on the lighted display above Sonnenberg’s counter only show the potential winnings in millions, which means that “999” isn’t entirely accurate.

Carmel G., who declined to give her last name, was working the cash register Sunday morning as customers brought up their meat orders. Lottery tickets aren’t the draw this morning, but that could change if cashiers put stickers on their shirts indicating they sell the tickets, she said.

“We do pretty good, for a small meat market,” Carmel said.

She’s worked at the store for 22 years, and owns her own home as well as motorcycles and cars. She plans to buy a ticket, and if she wins, she’ll hire a lawyer and an accountant, then give it to “the people who were good to me.”

“I would give it to my grandson,” Carmel said, adding that she would find a way to give back to Sonnenberg’s for taking care of her so many years.

Downtown, the duo behind the register at Divine’s Convenience Store volleyed what-ifs back and forth as they entertained the scenario of winning the jackpot.

Wil Elder’s was a humble fantasy, motivated by family and the fear of missing out.

“Even though it seems ethereal and unattainable, if I were to attain it, winning would change my life completely,” he said. “The dream isn’t to buy 10 Jet Skis or 40 mansions, it’s just to make sure my daughter’s not trippin’ about rent.”

Though he hasn’t bought a ticket, Nathan Deforest said he would buy a place to live and a “new rig” with his potential winnings.

“I’m currently carless,” he said.

The two estimated they’d sold about five times their usual ticket sales for this lottery. Regular customers add a ticket or two to their usual purchases because the jackpot is so high.

Deforest said they’re expecting to see more sales as Tuesday comes closer.

“The main stir is the day before the drawing,” he said. “People figure if you wait longer, you’ll have a better chance.”

Elder doesn’t have high hopes that his number will come up.

“I think God’s got more important bullets in his gun,” he said, noting the war in Ukraine and the fentanyl epidemic as needing divine intervention faster than the results of a lottery.

At the Nom Nom station on Illinois Avenue, the gas pumps are still out of order. The station is putting in new tanks, and has been working on reduced hours while the work is completed.

That didn’t stop the station selling a significant number of tickets on Saturday, the day after the most recent drawing produced no winner, said Jayci Rutter, who was managing the store Sunday.

“Usually we do maybe 80 or 90 a day,” Rutter said. “Yesterday, we sold 117.”

That didn’t include people buying tickets from a kiosk in the corner.

Rutter said she remembered pulling extra hours when the Powerball drawing went above $1.5 billion seven years ago, and she was working at a different station off Cheney Spokane Road. Those shifts were just to print tickets for the drawing, she said.

Rutter doesn’t play very often, but said she’d probably buy a ticket before Tuesday’s drawing.

“You can’t win if you don’t play, right?” she said.

That was also the attitude of Englehart, who said he’d be buying his ticket before he clocked out from the shop on Sunday. His plans for any potential winnings would probably resonate with a lot of Inland Northwest residents.

“I’d buy a piece of property, and a house, somewhere on the lake,” he said.

The potential multimillionaire status wasn’t enough to entice Hico Market cashier Genet Sbhatu to try her odds. She’s been burned before, having bought a lottery ticket on one other occasion and losing.

A lit incense stick filled the Perry Street convenience store with a smoky aroma Sunday morning as she rang up snacks, cigarettes and gas sales, but no lottery tickets. She works the morning shift, and ticket sales are more of an afternoon affair, she said.

Tuesday’s drawing will take place at 8 p.m. local time and can be watched live on the lottery’s website,