Win or lose, people are still playing the odds when it comes to the Tennessee Lottery, knowing up front that their chances of winning are slim.
According to a news release from the Tennessee Lottery website Tuesday, ticket sales are once again booming with $323.4 million raised for state education programs, which is a 10.2 percent increase from last year.
John Kelly, chief operating officer with Mountain Empire Oil and Roadrunner Markets, said lottery sales, other than big jackpot numbers, usually remain pretty consistent, depending largely on individual customer preferences.
“I would probably say the last couple of months it might be better than it has been, but lottery sales...in our stores, have always been very strong,” Kelly said. “I think a lot of it is, you know, what the customer’s comfortable with.”
He said while sales do increase for big money tickets like customers saw when the lottery reached a high of $656 million in March, he said a lot of the time he sees a lot of interest for the scratch picks.
“The lottery does a good job at coming out with new games every...6 to 8 weeks. They come out with about three new games, so there’s a lot of interest in new products,” Kelly said.
Bruce Satern, shift leader at One Stop Convenience Store, said ticket sales vary and that both scratch picks and lottery tickets come out even in sales.
“We stay pretty consistent,” Satern said. “It’s been pretty steady. The only time I see the peaks is when the jackpots start going up.”
Satern also said the new games put out through the lottery system do tend to draw people in.
“People are always looking for new games,” he said.
He said people filter in randomly throughout the day for lottery tickets and products, but it’s hard to tell when they are going to buy any.
“You see a lot of the same people buying tickets, but it’s kind of whenever they feel is going to be lucky for them,” Satern said. “Some people have their own system. We sure appreciate everybody and I wish they were all winners, but it doesn’t really work out that way.”
Donald Johnson said he understands his chances, but also understands the rewards of playing, too.
“I had $2 in my name and I won $500,” he said. “That made my day.”
While he said he doesn’t win all the time, he said he plays just for the chance sometimes.
“Some days it’ll seem like I have that lucky streak while I’m playing,” Johnson said. “I’ve got that feeling and sometimes I win a little, but it’s better than what I put in it.”
He said a big reason he plays nowadays is because of the educational funding through the lottery system.
“I usually play to help the students,” he said. “That’s probably what most people play for, to help education,...whether they win or not.”
Playing the lottery every once in awhile is all part of Mark Montemarano’s system for playing the game.
“If I win two or three times and get a couple of free tickets and then I win $10, that’s it. I know I’ve bought more tickets than my luck,” he said. “I’ll quit that for the day and come back another day. I’m more of a mathematician on it. I kind of play the odds.”
Montemarano said normally he breaks even when playing the lottery, but said he appreciates where the money he spent to buy the tickets goes.
“It’s supposed to be going toward scholarships and schools,” he said. “I feel like if the state Legislature’s not going to help support our school system appropriately, then maybe the rest of us need to.”
Montemarano said he doesn’t always win big or win at all, but the chance of winning keeps him as a lottery customer.
“I know the odds are terrible, but something in me always holds out a little hope, you know, that it’ll fall my way,” he said.