Franklin, Idaho • The lure of a $640 million jackpot proved irresistible to many Utahns, even as they admitted they knew the odds were against them.
"If I don't win, at least I'll be adding to someone else's prize," said Nancy Jabbouri, of Logan.
Jabbouri, who learned of the $640 million jackpot from her husband while he was working in China, loaded up her five daughters, ages 1 to 11, and crossed the Utah border to brave the long line Friday at the La Tienda gas and convenience store in Franklin, Idaho. The wait more than an hour was fun, Jabbouri and her girls agreed.
Store owner KC Spackman said the record-breaking jackpot has been a strain on his employees, who sold tickets as fast as they could at four registers this week. But with more than 6,000 tickets sold Thursday and a 5-percent commission the store earns on every ticket sold, Spackman said no one is complaining.
"I'm here to tell you, that's a lot of nickels," he said, adding that his team "takes pride in being the home of the Utah Lottery."
Many bettors said they go out of their way to buy tickets at La Tienda because of its reputation as a winning store. A $1 million ticket was purchased there last year and Tim Von Bon, of South Ogden, said he drove past a Malad, Idaho, store to buy tickets for himself and 16 colleagues at Hill Air Force Base because he has better luck at the north end of Cache Valley.
Sasha Richardson, of Salt Lake City, is counting on one of her colleagues at Verisk Health to win. With a wad of sticky notes and their bets totaling $175, Richardson's take on any prize in her pool will be 5 percent.
Many "virgin" contestants relied on a La Tienda employee to help them correctly fill in the bubbles on the ticket. And LeAnna Walker, a senior citizen from Hooper, said she wasn't sure yet how to find out if her is a winner. Like many of the would-be philanthropists in line Friday, Walker said she hopes the jackpot ends in a split.
"It would do a lot of good for a lot of people," she said.
First-time lottery player Bernardino Pineda, 19, of Hyrum, spent $2 on the dream of winning enough money to help his family in Mexico and ensure a better life for his wife and unborn child. A trip to Disney World is also on the wish-list, he said.
"If God were to bless me with this, it would solve a lot of problems," he said. "Let's hope my wife brings me good luck."