In Aspen, Powerball dreams

Erica Robbie and Lauren Glendenning
The Aspen Times
Basil Smilios purchases powerball tickets at City Market Tuesday afternoon.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

As Hunter S. Thompson wrote in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

You have better odds of getting attacked by a shark, killed by a dog or struck by lightning, but that’s not stopping people from jumping on the Powerball bandwagon — even in Aspen.

With the multi-state Powerball lottery jackpot at $1.5 billion, there’s a steady stream of customers purchasing tickets in Aspen. The line before Saturday night’s drawing was 20 people deep at City Market around 5 p.m.

Many ticket buyers interviewed at the Shell station Tuesday weren’t regular lottery players, but the thought of winning a $1.5 billion jackpot was enough motivation to shell out a few bucks and dream.

Sam Rittgers, a bartender who has lived in Aspen for four years, said the Powerball is “kind of a big deal right now.” He said he has never bought tickets before but “I mean, yeah, if it means I get a chance at early retirement, I might as well.”

Kit Mclendon, a snowmobile guide and bartender, only buys tickets when he’s feeling lucky. He estimates he has bought about 25 tickets in his life. He said Tuesday as he was buying tickets at the Shell station that the hard part was choosing whether to let the computer select random numbers or if he should pick his favorite numbers.

For Charles Alexander, in Aspen for a bachelor party from Wilmington, North Carolina, the decision to buy a ticket was easy.

“I mean, why not? Somebody’s got to win,” he said. “You can’t score if you don’t shoot.”

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. Most people know their tickets will be losers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t dream.

Jane Miller, from Boston, never buys lottery tickets but bought six — as many as she could with the cash in her wallet — on Tuesday evening. She already knows what she’d do with the winnings, too.

“There’s an elaborate plan. I think there would be some family sharing and then travel. And then some sort of great house on a body of water somewhere,” she said. “And of course, helping animals and children in need.”

Rittgers said he would ski the rest of the year and also go on a ski trip somewhere. “And probably buy a business somewhere here in Aspen. Why not,” he said.

McLendon said he would share his with charities and friends.

Alexander was honest with himself when he thought about what he’d do with the money.

“I’d do good things and bad things — to be determined,” he said.