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Lottery ticket sales pick up in Portal

Other county stores see usual sales

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Lottery ticket sales pick up in Portal

Matthew Newsome, 18, rings up lottery tickets while working at Clyde's #70 convenience store in Portal, Saturday. Newsome rang up a winning lottery ticket the Friday evening which made regular customer Tonya Harris and her husband Bobby $275 million richer.

            Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same spot, but you can't tell that to a crowd of Georgia Lottery hopefuls who stampeded to Portal over the weekend after a local couple won a $275 million jackpot.

            Robert and Tonya Harris, who live in a mobile home on Cowboy Way near Lake Collins, a few miles from Portal, purchased the lucky ticket using their grandchildren's birth dates.

            They chose the cash option Monday, which means they will receive about $167,694,000 before taxes, according to Georgia Lottery spokesman Tandi Reddick.

            The  winning ticket was sold at Clyde's Market #70 in Portal, where Robert Harris spent $2 on a payday Friday to purchase the winning ticket. Clyde's Market will receive $25,000 for selling the lucky ticket, said manager John Campbell.

            And after the news hit the streets, people started pouring in, wanting a piece of the action, lining up to buy lottery, he said.

            Lottery sales "have doubled," he said Monday. A normal day would mean about $1,000 in lottery sales, including both lotto and scratch-off tickets, but Saturday the store sold almost $2,000 worth of just scratch-off tickets, he said.

            "We've sold $7,000 (in lottery) for the week already," he said. "We sold $200 worth online before 10 a.m."

            Campbell described the Harris couple as "down home country folks with good hearts." He said they are not big spenders when it comes  to lottery, but Harris came in on a payday and spent just $2 on the tickets.

            Lottery sales have increased at Portal's only other convenience store, too, said manager Patrice Cone.

            "They've increased by about 15 percent," she said.

            And a great many customers have appeared who don't look familiar, and Cone wondered whether people just feel Portal is  the lucky spot, because "People I've never seen before are coming to Portal, just playing Mega Millions," she said.

            And everybody is talking about the Harris' win.

            "They say 'how about that? It could have been me,'" she said.

            Other stores in the county reported little or no increase in lottery sales after the Portal pair came into their fortune.

            "We've seen a little increase," said Josette Bailey, manager of Mighty Mike's #17 on Sinkhole Road at Ga., 46. People are saying "they're glad somebody from our area finally won."

            Bailey's store sold a winning ticket last year, with a man claiming $100,000, she said.

            Clyde's Market #74 and #76 reported no change in lottery sales over the weekend. And GATE manager Joanne Bowen, who supervises the store near the Statesboro Mall, said the increase in sales at her store occurred just before the weekend, when people bought tickets in hopes they would win the big jackpot.

            "Now it is back to normal," she said Monday.

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