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South Mississippians all-in as Powerball soars above $1.5 billion

JEFF CLARK/SUN HERALD 
 Malcolm Drake of Ocean Springs buys his Powerball tickets at a RaceTrac gas station in Slidell Tuesday morning in hopes of winning more than $1 billion dollars.
JEFF CLARK/SUN HERALD Malcolm Drake of Ocean Springs buys his Powerball tickets at a RaceTrac gas station in Slidell Tuesday morning in hopes of winning more than $1 billion dollars.

SLIDELL -- Malcolm Drake of Ocean Springs said he thought he would never buy a lottery ticket.

On Tuesday morning, not only did he buy a ticket, he did it for the second time in less than a week.

And he showed little remorse for his actions.

"This is big," he said. "We may never get a chance like this again."

Drake is one of many South Mississippians taking the chance at striking it rich by buying $2 Powerball tickets.

And should Drake or someone else have the winning six numbers, they will suddenly be thrust into a tax bracket alongside some elite company, such as Richard Branson, Donald Trump and Donald Sterling.

Like kudzu along the side of a state highway, the Powerball jackpot has grown and grown, and it shows no signs of stopping. The payout for Wednesday's Powerball drawing at the time of this writing was $1.5 billion. It was about $800 million during Saturday night's drawing when no winning ticket was claimed.

According to consumer-finance website Value Penguin, this is the first time a jackpot has doubled between drawings. At $1.5 billion, it is by far the largest jackpot in U.S. history.

As the payout increases, so does interest in the lottery. When jackpots become larger than $300 million, Value Penguin said, the public interest increases and more tickets are sold.

Drake drove about 130 miles round-trip Tuesday to buy his Powerball tickets.

"Good thing gas is cheap right now," he said Tuesday from the RaceTrac gas station on Gause Boulevard in Slidell, the store's largest Powerball ticket retailer in Louisiana. "I figured there's a chance I may win so I might as a well take it. I'm spending a little gas money with the chance of winning a billion."

In reality, the $1.5 billion is actually paid in installments over 30 years. Or the winner can opt for a one-time cash payout of about $930 million.

"I would take the payout," he said. "That's still a lot of money."

Drake, 36, is a musician and was the drummer in the popular Coast band Joshua Sun. He said he would further his musical career if he wins the jackpot.

"I would take care of my friends and family first," he said. "Then, I would have a room full of drums."

But $1.5 billion is a lot of money and Drake said he also would use the winnings to further pursue his hobby.

"I would buy a bunch of toys," he said. "I love action figures -- 'Star Wars' action figures and 'Dragonball Z' action figures -- I'm a big nerd."

His chances of winning are about one in 292.2 million, the same odds as for all ticket holders.

He's OK with that.

"When you hear $1.5 billion, you have to take that chance," he said. "I mean, what if I win?"

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