Lotto mania hits Western Tidewater

Published 9:58 am Friday, March 30, 2012

FRANKLIN—Disabled due to kidney disease, former Courtland farmer Gid Bynum isn’t a regular lottery player, but he hopes to win tonight’s drawing for the largest jackpot in lottery history.

The 56-year-old said if he wins the more than $500 million jackpot, he would buy a home and help those in need of kidney transplants.

“It only takes one to win,” Bynum said after buying his Mega Millions ticket from Man Market on South Street in Franklin Thursday.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, Mega Millions had climbed to $540 million with a cash payout of $389 million, according to a published report. The increase in the jackpot was due to ticket sales; the more tickets people buy, the higher the jackpot climbs.

No one has won the Mega Millions since Jan. 24. The drawing will be held at 11 p.m.; sales will be cut off at 10:45.

Jay Singh, owner of J.B. Food Mart at 29463 Walters Highway, Carrsville, said before the most recent drawing on Tuesday, he sold more than 1,000 tickets at $1 each.

While most are spending $5 and $10 for today’s drawing, one customer spent $150 on tickets, Singh said.

Brisk lottery sales have helped boost his business.

“When they buy tickets, they buy other stuff like soda and candy,” Singh said.

Erica Evans, a cashier at Sunoco Mart at Armory and North College drives in Franklin, said about 30 to 40 percent of the store’s Thursday sales were for lottery tickets.

“They’re spending $5 and $10 and $20,” Evans said.

Gregory Diggs, 26, of Franklin limited himself to two tickets from Man Market on Thursday.

“I’m trying not to go overboard,” said Diggs, who is unemployed. His last job was with the farmers’ market in Courtland.

If he wins, Diggs would pay for recreation centers and parks for the City of Franklin.

“I just would want to give,” he said.

Edith Turner, 62, of Franklin also purchased two lottery tickets Thursday from Man Market.

“You have to play to win,” said the Norfolk Naval Shipyard retiree.

A mother of two and grandmother of two, Turner said she would travel to Hawaii if she won. Turner once hit the lottery for $5,000.

Ricky Holloman, 32, of Franklin will purchase five tickets. If he wins, he will take a vacation and enjoy himself.

“I’ve never won, but I still play,” Holloman said.