Jennifer Thomas loves it when Mega Millions jackpots climb.
As owner of 16 Kids Deli and Marathon in Cuyahoga Falls, she sees more customers flow into her deli and gas station to buy tickets.
And when people stop by, they also buy gas, sandwiches, soda, beer and everything else sold there.
With tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot estimated at $586 million — the second-highest amount in U.S. history — her business at the corner of Second and Broad streets has been plenty busy.
“All the amateurs come in when it’s up this high,” Thomas said with a laugh. “Almost everyone gets a ticket.”
Ohio Lottery officials reported brisk sales statewide Monday as interest in Mega Millions increased along with the size of the pot.
The big money definitely attracts the attention of the occasional player, Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Marie Kilbane said.
“They bring in a lot of excitement,” she said of the large payouts. “It’s really good for our retailer sales.”
Robert Wheeler, 78, of Cuyahoga Falls, stopped by 16 Kids Deli and Marathon on Monday morning to pick up a ticket.
“I’d love to win,” he said.
Asked what he’d do with the money, he said: “Put a good restaurant in downtown Akron. And try to help my godkids and grandkids.”
No one has won the top prize since early October — a streak of 21 drawings.
Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not, Mega Millions got more difficult to win in late October. Instead of there being 56 balls, there is now a pool of 75.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 259 million (up from 1 in 176 million when there were 56 balls).
The last time someone from Ohio won a Mega Millions was in February 2006, when the jackpot hit $270 million.
Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The largest jackpot was $656 million in March 2012.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.