LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- Forget FEMA, insurance adjusters and construction cleanups. Some of the people hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy are hoping one thing this week answers their prayers: a $425 million Powerball jackpot.
Wednesday night's drawing is one of the biggest multistate lottery takes in U.S. history, and the high hopes for walking away with multimillion-dollar checks extended to some New York and New Jersey communities hardest hit by last month's storm. Many residents said that if they won, they'd even give back to the recovery effort.
With so much money in the jackpot, it would be particularly special if several victims of the storm could split the winnings, said Long Beach, N.Y., retiree Raymond Parker.
"A lot of people should win, not just one," he said at a stationery store in Long Beach where he frequently buys lottery tickets. He said his plan was to stick with his usual $4 purchase of two Powerball tickets and that if he won, he'd give money to his nieces and nephews to pay for their college educations donate to the Red Cross as thanks for their relief efforts in Long Beach.
Like many in his town, the 67-year-old Parker said his car was destroyed by rising floodwaters during the storm; the lobby of his high-rise apartment building was also flooded and he was without power for more than a week.
But he's not contemplating buying a new car if he wins.
"I'd hire a chauffeur to take me around," he joked.
Wednesday's jackpot was the record for a Powerball drawing, said Christy Calicchia, a spokeswoman for the New York State Lottery. Powerball sells tickets in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The previous high for a Powerball drawing was in 2006, when eight Nebraska workers shared a $365 million jackpot, she said.
Last January, Powerball officials doubled the price of tickets to $2, but also increased the minimum jackpot from $20 million to $40 million, Calicchia said.
John Scaduto, a sous chef who lost his job when the Oakdale, N.Y., restaurant where he works was flooded, dreams of buying his own eatery if the winning numbers go his way. "I already have over $100 worth" of tickets, he said while stopping at a Long Beach 7-11 for lunch on Monday. He also said if he became a millionaire he would like to help his damaged community.