When people walk through the door of Center Market looking for a few essentials these days, those essentials often include an Oregon Lottery ticket -- thanks to a record Megabucks jackpot.
"Usually, they come in for something else and buy the tickets as well," said Soni Singh, manager of the store near Center and 17th streets NE. "Today, they're just coming in for the tickets."
And they are buying them in bunches, Singh said. On Wednesday, one customer spent $125 on tickets; another spent $325. Late in the afternoon, one person bought $600 worth of tickets for a chance to win $25.5 million -- the largest Megabucks prize in the 19-year history of the Oregon Lottery.
"People are just buying them like crazy," Singh said.
No one won Wednesday's jackpot, which would have generated annuity payments of $683,000 per year for 25 years after taxes or a lump sum of $8.5 million after taxes. The jackpot will rise to $26.5 million on Saturday.
Lottery fever isn't expected to break until the jackpot is claimed.
"I'll typically buy one or two, though I don't play very often," said Tom Hageman of Salem as he left the store. "Now I'm spending $5 at a time."
The last Megabucks jackpot was won April 12 when a $15.6 million prize jackpot was won April 12, when a $15.6 million prize was awarded.
"The higher jackpots just generate more attention," said Oregon Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann. "What will happen is people will stop by a store to get some milk or something and look at the jackpot and buy a ticket."
A month after the game started in November 1985, a daily sales record was set when more than $100,000 worth of tickets were sold. Sales have continued to grow ever since. On Wednesday, for example, more than 21,000 Megabucks tickets were sold in a single hour between 3 and 4 p.m.
Jayne Butler of Salem is one of those new players to the game, attracted by the large jackpot.
"This is the first one I've ever bought," she said. But Butler is feeling lucky. Her daughter was featured on an episode of "The Swan," and Butler herself was a winning contestant on the show "Queen for a Day," when she was younger.
Butler's hoping a jackpot will make her queen for a lifetime.