Nation goes Lotto-crazy over $150m jackpot

A customer gets their Powerball ticket. (Photo: Supplied/The Lott)

It’s the biggest lottery jackpot of all time in Australia – worth a staggering $150 million – and newsagents are struggling to cope with the crowds hoping to snare the winning ticket in tonight’s (Thursday) draw.

Although the odds of winning Australia’s biggest ever jackpot are one in 134,490,400, they are clearly not deterring punters. As of Wednesday lunchtime, more than half the Australian population had tried its luck, according to a Lotto spokeswoman.

Speaking outside a newsagent in Sydney’s Surry Hills, one hopeful ticket-holder, Mick, said he certainly wouldn’t be heading to work tomorrow if he was the lucky winner.

Hopeful Lotto ticket-holders (Photo: Annika Baker)

“I rarely purchase lottery tickets,” he said. “I would sit down with a cup of coffee and listen to the news if I won.”

Newsagents have taken on extra staff and extended their opening hours to cope with the expected surge of ticket sales this evening, just ahead of the draw starting at 7pm AEST. Lotto estimates that 5,000 tickets will be purchased every minute in the final hours before sales close at 6:30pm. 

Lucy Chen, whose family runs the Surry Hills newsagent, said their preparations for the rush had also included displaying extra Lotto signs in and outside the shop.

“We’re expecting today to be one of our busiest days ever,” she said.

Chen said people aged 30 to 50 were the most frequent buyers of tickets, but the higher the jackpot, the younger the ticket buyer tended to be.

“A lot more younger people buy tickets when the jackpot is high, but we see more middle-aged people buying tickets regularly,” she said.

Lottery agencies have strict protocols in place for division one, two and three winners. If a player is registered with a player’s card, Lotto will call them after the draw to convey the news likely to change their life. If a player is unregistered, it is up to them to check whether theirs is the winning ticket. 

Once the winner has claimed their prize, it takes two weeks for the cash to reach their bank account. 

The winner is given a Lotto guide booklet containing a list of bank managers, financial advisors and counsellors who can given them financial aid and support. – @annikakbaker

Additional reporting by James Yousif, Amelia Roach and Blake Mannes