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Why Washingtonians never win the Powerball lottery

Larry McKinney, left, waits for his Powerball lottery ticket purchased at the Fuel City store in Dallas on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. For Wednesday's drawing, Powerball's estimated $400 million jackpot will be the nation's fifth-largest ever. People in Washington only buy 1 to 1-and-a-half percent of the total Powerball tickets. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The Powerball winner is from South Carolina. Their one jackpot ticket was worth about $400 million or a lump sum of $223 million.

Once again – the winner of the Powerball isn’t from Washington. Why is that? We trail just about everybody in sales of Powerball tickets, which is why a Seattle Times piece pointed out that we’ll probably never see a Powerball winner from Washington.

Lottery spokesman Arlen Harris told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross that in any given week, we buy about one to one-and-a-half percent of the total Powerball tickets. Meanwhile in Florida, or New Jersey, they’re buying 17 percent of the Powerball tickets.

“They do have larger populations,” said Harris, “but their sales are almost triple ours.”

Harris thinks it comes down to the attitudes of people on the East Coast, versus the attitudes of those of us out west. On the West Coast, our skepticism gets in the way of playing the lottery. He says our philosophy about gaming just isn’t the same.

And maybe it could be traced back to the history of the Revolutionary War. Harris said that Ben Franklin held a lottery to buy munitions. “So the idea of the lottery on the East Coast (is a part of) the history of our nation,” Harris said.

It’s not just a Powerball problem; sales are lower in Washington’s lottery games as well.

“Our annual sales per capita (per year) in Washington state is about $28,” explained Harris. “In New Jersey they spend about $298 per person (and) the number one state in the nation as far as sales per capita is Massachusetts, which spends $670 per person per year on the lottery.”

You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.

And in case you’re wondering, that couple from Ephrata who won a big lottery – that was the Megamillions.

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