Charles Drayton travels from North Augusta to buy his lottery tickets at Bodie’s Shell convenience store on 13th Street, where he figures his luck is best.
He could be right.
In an Augusta Chronicle analysis of all lottery wins over $600 in Richmond County from 2009 through October this year, Bodie’s had the most – 250.
Lichelle Gibbs, who has been lottery manager at Bodie’s for more than 10 years, wasn’t surprised the store topped the list. About one-third of the store at the corner of 13th and Ellis streets is dedicated to lottery sales, with a counter running two machines for lotto drawings as well as an area with benches for people playing Keno and other lottery games. The store also has two vending machines that carry scratch-off tickets.
Gibbs said the owner chose to move all lottery operations away from the front of the store for the convenience of players and non-playing customers.
Drayton carried with him a worn, paperback book that helps players pick lucky combinations as he played a variety of games recently.
“I can’t say I’ve never won,” Drayton said about his success at the store. “I have won several times, just not in a while.”
The Georgia Lottery has more than 80 instant, or scratch-off, games that cost $1-$20 per play, as well as nine draw games, including Powerball, Fantasy 5, Cash 3 and Keno!
Two Hephzibah stores – Circle J and First Stop – located within a half-mile of each other on Tobacco Road came in at second and third for most wins. The two stores also rank in the top five for the most tickets sold, according to lottery officials.
“Evidently if you sell more tickets, you’re going to have more wins,” said Mainak Patel, owner of Circle J.
Both owners said a large number of their lottery customers come from Fort Gordon.
“People in this area play a lot of lottery,” said Vijay Patel, owner of First Stop.
Vijay Patel helps brand himself as a lucky store by posting two months worth of winning instant tickets on a wall by the counter. As a “lucky store” owner, he’s become mindful of customer rituals and superstitions when buying tickets.
“Some people don’t like you to tell them good luck because that’s unlucky,” he said. “So then they buy another ticket.”
Hot Spot, while ranked No. 4 on the list, has the most recent “big” win of $2 million from a Millionaire Jingle Jumbo Bucks instant ticket in February.
That winning ticket, as well as other winners, are displayed around the ticket counter in the small store at 3184 Skinner Mill Road. The store carries more than 60 instant ticket game choices.
Store manager Sam Dutton said the display of success has prompted more customers to buy tickets.
A sign outside the store tells customers that the store raised more than $240,000 for the HOPE Scholarship program and Pre-K last year.
Somewhere in Augusta was fifth on the list, almost solely on its Keno! wins. The sports bar at 2820 Washington Road had 184 wins, only three of which weren’t from Keno!
Owner Cindy Fisk said she was a little surprised to hear how the store compared in the county, but then again shouts of joy are fairly common.
“Most of our Keno! players are pretty lucky,” she said.