AUSTIN, Texas - A dollar will only get you one small ticket, but Wednesday buying into Lotto Texas also offers the hope of winning a big payout.
The payout sits currently at $36.75 million, the largest jackpot for that game in 10 years.
It has brought out new players, like Tim Cole. "Yes sir, I'm going to get 4 tickets today, fresh from San Diego,” he said.
The Lotto Texas jackpot currently stands as the 5th largest in the world. Mega Millions and PowerBall have larger jackpots because they include other states, but even against those two, the Texas game stands tall.
"For a couple of days, about two weeks ago, Lotto Texas actually was the largest jackpot available in North America,” said Texas Lottery Commission Executive Director Gary Grief.
The jackpot 10 years ago was a little larger at $97 million. If there is no winner Wednesday night, the jackpot rolls over and will continue to grow. To reach $36 million the jackpot has rolled over 65 times, also a record.
The cash value of just over $30 million even has regular players, like Joe Gage, excited. "Give it to me, I want it,” he said, laughing.
A Majik Mart in Northwest Austin may be one of the luckiest places in Central Texas. They're on a big dollar payout streak. A sign inside the store makes noted that a $100,000 Power Ball ticket was purchased there in July. In the past week, prizes totaling more than $12,000 were won from the location.
Store clerk Bishwa Joshi said in 2019 they had another $100,000 winner and is ready to win again. “Why not,” said Joshi.
Wednesday's Lotto Texas jackpot is happening in the middle of a viral pandemic, but in a strange way, the outbreak seems to be helping.
"Back in April we had about three weeks of sales decline, but after April sales turned around. And since then, going all the way until the end of fiscal year, which just ended two days ago, we set an all-time new record for lottery sales for Texas. More than $6.7 billion, with a B, in our state. Which translates into more than $1.6 billion for public education and veterans services,” said Grief.
The extra cash for lottery tickets apparently is coming from casinos and other entertainment venues that have been shut down since early spring. That’s leaving Lotto Texas as a COVID-19 low-risk game of chance that's still available.