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Searching for the winning ticket

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As the Barenaked Ladies’ early 1990s hit song concludes, “If I had a million

dollars, I’d be rich.”

So how about $550 million?

Plenty of area residents were eager to find out just how rich they could be, stopping at local gas stations to purchase Powerball jackpot tickets before the 9 p.m. Wednesday deadline, with the winning jackpot numbers yielding $550 million.

Karissa Janazek, 22, of Baxter, an employee at a Holiday Station in Baxter — where the area and state’s biggest Powerball winner, Farrah Slad, bought her ticket in 1999 worth $78.8 million — said as of noon on Wednesday the store had sold 520 tickets since 5 a.m. Just down the road at SuperAmerica it was estimated that 1,004 Powerball tickets had been sold between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“This is my first time buying a (Powerball) ticket,” said Hollie LeDoux, 21, of Brainerd. “But if I win, I already know it’s going toward building a house.”

LeDoux, who bought five tickets at the SuperAmerica station in Baxter, said with just a year left of payments on the house she currently lives in, another house on land she already owns would be perfect. And even with the money rolling in, she added she would still keep her weekend job at the Crosby Care Center.

Holly Kopeki agreed with LeDoux, stating that keeping life as normal as possible following winning all that dough is what she would strive to do.

“I would not spend it ridiculously,” said Kopeki who bought two tickets, one for each of her children. “I would pay bills, send the kids to college and invest wisely so I would have it to live on for the rest of my life.

“I wouldn’t want to be over spending on things that until now I have done just fine without.”

And with all of that money, a lump sum figure of “only” $221 million after Minnesota taxes, sharing was on the mind of most, too.

“This could spread out amongst a lot of friends,” said Jim Apple, from Nisswa, who purchased 10 tickets and joked that he would also buy out his Remax Company.

Carl Knutson said he would donate most of his funds — first to charities working with cancer and then food shelves.

“I don’t need the money,” said Knutson, who only bought one because “why not?”

And even with the odds of winning set around one to 175 million — the chances of dying from a bee sting (one in 6.1 million) or being struck by lightning (one in 3 million) more likely — it still doesn’t hurt to imagine spending the money like it’s already yours.

Just think, if you had ($550) million dollars, you’d certainly be rich.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).