WEST HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. -- $1.5 billion. It's a bucket of money few people can wrap their heads around. But it's up for grabs in tonight's Powerball drawing - the third since last week -- and it's got people coming out of the woodwork throughout Rockland County to roll the dice to join America's one percent.
Anyone plonking down cash for a chance at the spoils can't help but dream about how $1.5 billion could be a game changer. But in Haverstraw, a working class community that is largely Hispanic, when asked what would you do if you won was unanimously answered like this: "I'd help the poor."
Alba Jimenez works at the Railroad Avenue Deli and Grocery in Haverstraw. She's been caught up in the excitement of lottery fever, watching people stream in and out for more than a week, hoping for a chance at the big prize. She too has forked over $100 to buy 50 tickets because if she won, she'd send "a lot of money back to my people in the Dominican Republic." She also said she'd quit working.
Santana Felix is playing the lottery too because "I want to be rich." But without missing a beat, he adds, "So I can help poor people. People who need food, houses, clothes."
Everyone understands the odds of winning the Powerball's $1.5 billion is elusive. One bystander said, "you can't win if you don't play."
Ray Lynch was stocking up on tickets at T&B's Grocery & Restaurant, also on Railroad Avenue.
"I can't believe no one won the last round," said Lynch, who bought 12 tickets last time. This time he'll pony up $10 for another five.
"Half the fun of this is just buying the ticket; it's the anticipation of waiting for the drawing and looking to see if you're a winner," he said. "You can't get caught up in the excitement if you don't have a ticket in your back pocket waiting to be read."
Asked what he'd do if he won, Lynch, a retired Navy man, first said he'd help people. But then, after a brief pause, he added that he'd move to the Florida Keys and buy a yacht and sail around the Caribbean.
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