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Lottery luck: Northeast Ohioans hope to hit it big with $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot

Lottery sign
Lottery
Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 19:03:44-05

BROOK PARK, Ohio — What would you do if you won $1.35 billion? For some, paying off debt is top of mind.

"When I win this money, I'm going to pay off all of our bills. I'm going to buy a house, and we're going to help the kids," said a customer named Arthur.

For others, taking care of family is the first thought.

"My daughter in college, buy her a newer vehicle, invest it," said customer Teresa Keyes. But Keyes also followed up with plans for herself as well. "Travel from country to country, mhm, all around."

Northeast Ohioans are dreaming big, planning what they'd do if they won the second highest jackpot in Mega Millions history. The jackpot has been building since Oct. 18, now at $1.35 billion with a cash option of $724.6 million.

It's a prize that has people flocking to their local convenience stores and gas stations to get themselves a ticket—or tickets. Some will stop at the closest one to them, others have their go-to spots. A popular destination for lottery goers is the Shell gas station on Smith Road in Brook Park.

Past winners of smaller jackpots grace the walls of the station. $35,000 winner. $1,500 winner. $10,000 winner. So naturally, the gas station gets extra busy around drawing dates.

"A lot of people. I'm talking like at least 100, 200. A lot of people, they're always in and out of here because this—this is the luckiest spot," Keyes said.

Customer after customer declared the gas station their rabbit's foot—a way to get their ticket and add a little splash of luck into the mix.

Employees of the station know the reputation and knew that Friday would be a day of non-stop business at the counter. Logan Schmitz was warned but was baptized by fire on his second day of work.

"This is my second day," Schmitz laughed. "I was told not to come in today but here I am."

Schmitz knew to expect a steady stream of customers. He may not have been prepared for what that actually meant.

"It's been crazy. We've had a lot of customers coming in and a lot of people buying a lot of tickets and stuff like that. And it's been a hectic day," Schmitz smiled, not rattled by the workload. "It's a lot of friendly people coming in trying to win that big money."

Bad luck isn't welcomed at the Brook Park Shell, and even though the date—Friday the 13th—doesn't usually come with the idea of fortune behind it, there's actually a bit of it associated with the day.

Back in 2015, a $200 million ticket was sold at a Columbus drive-thru on Friday the 13th.

Customers at the Shell gas station left with their fingers crossed as they took their stacks of tickets home with them, hoping that tomorrow will see them strike gold. Even with 1 in 302 million odds, the hopeful lottery goers won't be deterred from dreaming of riches.

"Worth a shot kind of thing. Anything’s possible," Arthur said.

And if they don't win on Friday, well, there's just one thing left to do.

"Just keep playing," Keyes said. "You're going to win sooner or later. If not now, then later."

The Mega Millions drawing will be held Friday at 11 p.m.

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