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Powerball, Mega Millions tickets go on sale Thursday

People throughout Mississippi can try their luck at massive jackpot games like the Powerball and Mega Millions for the first time Thursday, starting at 3 a.m.

That’s when those multi-state games go online at about 1,450 retailers throughout the state, allowing people 21 and older to play, The Commercial Dispatch reported. In 2018, state lawmakers authorized lottery sales to raise money primarily for infrastructure. Mississippi retailers first began selling scratch-off tickets in November.

“Scratch-offs make up 58 to 60-ish percent of lottery sales, so they get a lot of foot traffic, but you do tend to see a lot more excitement and a lot more coverage when the draw-style game jackpots get really big,” said Meg Annison, director of communications for the Mississippi Lottery Corporation.

Winners of the current Powerball jackpot could win up to $394 million, Annison said, but players can also win other, smaller prizes that in some cases can still be as high as $1 million to $2 million.

The incoming games have generated excitement among customers in the area, said Sherri Sherrod, who works at a Texaco gas station in the Columbus area.

“They’re asking when is it coming, what all do they have to do, especially the ones who’ve never played the lottery,” she said.

The new games allow players to choose their own numbers from among a play slip, broken into five plays, each of which costs $2. Players can choose six numbers for each play, or they can have the computer generate numbers for them. There are two drawings per week for each game.

Annison said she “couldn’t even estimate” how many people around the state will play before the first Mega Millions drawing on Friday or the first Powerball drawing Saturday.

Neither did Sherrod.

“I’m not going to say a number, but I can tell you it’s a lot because since we’ve had the scratch-offs, we’ve got a lot of business dealing with the scratch-offs and the lottery tickets,” she said. “And they’re waiting on the Powerball. So we’re actually expecting more people for Powerball to come because that’s what they’re waiting on — the Powerball, the Mega Millions.”

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