As a general rule, Tim O’Donnell doesn’t play the lottery.
“I keep telling my wife that if I make $1 billion, I’ll buy a ticket,” he said.
The Mega Millions jackpot crossed the $1 billion mark this week. So on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 27, O’Donnell, 53, found himself waiting in line with his wife Camille, 42, to pay $20 for 10 lottery tickets. The couple made the purchase at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, which gained notoriety for selling one of three winning tickets for the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016.
When asked what they would do if they won, Camille O’Donnell didn’t hesitate. They will buy a house in Hawaii.
“Maybe every island has one,” she said.
Chino’s O’Donnells are among thousands of Southern Californians eagerly looking forward to winning the California Lottery on Thursday, July 28 on the night of Friday, July 29, Estimated at $1.1 billion. Stores in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are lining up this week.
At 7-Eleven on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, cashier Elia Mejia said twice as many people came in to buy tickets, with several customers buying 50 each. There were so many players in Mega Millions that the store had to create a line just for ticket buyers, Mejia said.
Expect the lines to be extra long on the day of the drawing. In anticipation of that, Allen Hogue, 57, of Corona, made a deliberate buy Wednesday.
“Friday is going to be crazy,” Hogg said.
The Associated Press reports that the 45-state Mega Millions jackpot is the fourth-largest lottery prize in the United States. That amount has been increasing since mid-April, as no one matched all six numbers in 29 consecutive draws.
That doesn’t mean there are no winners.
Someone matched five numbers in Tuesday’s final millionaire draw. The California Lottery said in a tweet that the ticket was sold at the Country Store in the United States. Baker, a desert town in San Bernardino County, greets gamblers who drive to Las Vegas and claims to have the highest thermometer in the world.While dwarfed by the $1.1 billion jackpot, the consolation prize is worth $2.9 million.
With big jackpots, ticket buyers’ dreams come true. The O’Donnell family isn’t the only one with heaven at heart.
Courtney Collins of San Clemente said her first priority is buying a property in Hawaii.
On Wednesday, Collins walked into an Arco gas station in Capistrano Beach and bought five tickets with $10 bills. Station employee June Ong told her he wanted a 1 per cent pay cut if she won.
“Remember I sold you luck,” Ong said with a smile.
Collins pushes votes containing five sets of numbers to him
“I’ll remember you…I’ll take care of you,” she said. “Write your name on it.”
Collins wasn’t the only station customer buying lottery tickets.
“Everyone wants to be a winner,” Ong said. “They’re buying like crazy.”
Nearly 20 people lined up to buy tickets at the Blue Bird Liquor in Hawthorne at noon on Wednesday. The location is no accident. Tickets sold at the store have generated tens of millions of dollars in prize money over the past few decades.
South Bay resident Desi Wiley, 64, is one of them.
Willie gushed about a few things she would do if she could match the six numbers: pay off debt, give to friends and neighbors, help the homeless, and develop creative projects.
“This will give me the opportunity to focus on my current hobbies: painting, ceramics, photography,” she said.
Brittanie Ngo, 47, of Tustin, an information technology program manager for the U.S. Air Force, will rent out the area’s iconic amusement park.
Ngo said by phone that she was only 6 weeks old when she fled Vietnam before the fall of Saigon in April 1975. She said her father ran her off the airbase’s tarmac to the waiting C-130.
“My dream is to one day rent Disneyland and invite Vietnam Veterans and their families to a Thanksgiving night,” Ngo wrote in an email. The event, Ngo wrote, would thank “let us be free to enjoy the earth The sacrifice of the happiest place”.
Jeanette Weidl, 55, of Corona, who bought her first lottery ticket because she won more than $1 billion, says she would quit doing manicures if she won work.
That’s not all. “I’ll buy a few houses on the beach,” Weidel said. “I’ll buy a new car. I’ll buy a house for my family. And travel. Go to Europe.”
For some, the thought of winning it all was scary, and getting a consolation prize — like the one attached to the lucky ticket Baker sold — was even more appealing.
“It’s going to be a huge responsibility to win the full prize, so I’d much rather have five numbers to get a few million dollars,” said Terry Evdokimo, 74, a retired inspector at the International Longshoreman’s union in Huntington Beach. Terry Evdokimoff said. “If I do win the full prize, I’ll start donating to my cause, my main cause is Planned Parenthood.”
Mohamed Hassan, 27, of Chino Hills, said he will use the prize money to promote and accelerate a project he has been working on — developing a mobile app for sharing music.
Although the dream is big, the possibility is very small. The chance of winning is estimated at more than 1 in 300 million.
Those numbers don’t bother Hassan. “It’s a quantifiable possibility,” he said.
Hassan said he believes one’s odds improve when one is having a good time, as he did on Wednesday. There’s also the fact that he bought his tickets at the 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, where the 2016 jackpot was worth $528.8 million.
“I’m going to get this winning ticket, that’s what I’m going to say,” he said.
Staff writers Laylan Connelly, Linh Tat, Susan Christian Goulding and Tyler Shaun Evains contributed to this report.