Dreams of becoming an instant millionaire are driving Texans to their local convenience store this week in hopes of winning tonight's Texas Lottery drawing of $120 million, the largest jackpot to date.
The Texas Lottery Commission is reporting record ticket sales with the ever-increasing jackpot. Texans spent $13.3 million on lottery tickets for Saturday's drawing of $100 million.
More than 370,000 people won cash prizes from the weekend drawing - 27 of which had all five numbers, but not the bonus ball.
The 27 winners split a percentage of the winnings, garnering just over $7,000 each.
The Lottery Commission is optimistic about seeing a continuous increase in consumer gambling as the jackpot remains unclaimed.
"Sales are going really well. It just depends on the size of the jackpot because the bigger the jackpot, the more sales," said Leticia Vasquez, Lottery spokeswoman. "We are expecting sales to do approximately the same (today) as last Saturday, even though people usually play the weekend drawing more than the Wednesday one."
Consumer trends show that lottery ticket buyers mostly purchase their hopeful numbers on the day of the drawing. The Diamond Shamrock Corner Store at 921 Pasadena Blvd. is the busiest during lottery time when people get off work.
Mary Johnson of Pasadena got her tickets early, spending $3 on tonight's drawing.
"I've won a few dollars here and there, but nothing ever big," she said. "I keep playing because just maybe it could happen to me."
The wishful thinking of financial permanence seems to be the driving force behind most lottery consumers. Johnson said she limits herself to spending only a few dollars at each drawing, but has family members who spend hundreds.
"They just go crazy with lottery," she said.
Using the same numbers each week, Johnson hopes to one day take a permanent vacation.
"If I win, I'll take a vacation forever," she said. "Somewhere like the Bahamas or Europe or Hawaii."
The Mega Million drawing Tuesday night brought in just under $1 million in ticket sales for its also record jackpot of $100 million.
Both lottery drawings are at an all-time high for Texas, ranking second in the nation under the multi-state Power Ball drawing.
"It's true what they say, things are bigger in Texas, especially (tonight's) Lotto jackpot," said Reagan E. Greer, Texas Lottery Commission executive director. "We want players to have fun, but do not bet the farm on this prize. Remember, it's only a game."
Houston resident B.J. Johnson spends about $40 a drawing on the lottery game and spreads his chances of winning among many stores.
"I usually go around to four different stores and spend $10 at each place," Johnson said. "I always play the lottery, no matter what the jackpot is. Any million is a good million."
While purchasing several tickets at a Pasadena store Tuesday, Johnson said he's not even sure what he would do with $120 million. Putting expensive cars and luxury vacations aside, Johnson said he would put the money toward other things.
"I just don't know what it wold be. I guess I'll deal with it if it happens," he said.
Proceeds from Lottery ticket sales goes toward Texas public education. Thirty cents from every dollar spent on the Lottery is donated to the Foundation School Fund.