Tennessee Valley area reacts to highest lottery jackpot ever

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TENNESSEE VALLEY  (WHNT)– It’s been a jackpot that’s so high it won’t fit on signs at convenience stores. Quite the draw for customers who hoped Powerball would draw their numbers, flocking to Ardmore, Tennessee.

“Big jackpot, a billion dollars. Everybody wants a chance to be a billionaire right?” asked Jimmy Kish, a lottery hopeful from East Limestone. “When it was so big last week it would have been a winner and there wasn’t [one]… Maybe they’re just waiting for me to get the winning ticket.”

Others remarked that stores were packed Wednesday leading up to the drawing.

“Crowded,” said Maurice Shingleton, Jr. of Huntsville. “Very long line, and then you just have to spark up a conversation with somebody behind you.”

Some, but not all religious leaders at area churches we spoke with have different views.

With several lottery bills pre-filed in the Alabama Legislature, we asked them if they'd support having one in Alabama.

While one pastor at Madison Church of Christ said they typically leave the religious decision about gambling to the individual worshiper to interpret the scripture for themselves, other pastors in our area are more strict with their congregation. At Mayfair Church of Christ in Jones Valley, pastor Gary Bradley said he preaches against it.

At All Nations Christian Center, Lead Pastor Adrian Davis said, "When the Bible talks about being a good steward of your money? Gambling is not being a good steward of your money."

He explained that he'd rather see his congregation use the money to purchase tickets for God's kingdom.

"We could have taken that hundreds of dollars and do things like we did this past weekend, where we sponsored kids over in... Africa for 48 dollars a month," said Davis. "That's the stuff that really matters, kingdom work."

He said any day, he'd rather put his faith in something sure, instead of a lottery where there's minimal chance of winning.

"[God] is going to bless us," he said. "So that's what matters the most to me, is that I want to bank on the promise and not the possibility."

He said if someone wanted to donate lottery winnings to his church, he'd be hesitant.

"I think that if we got it the wrong way, then now we're prisoners to the wrong stuff," he said.

We also reached out to psychology experts about what may drive us to the state line for Powerball tickets.

UAH Psychology professor, Dr. Eric Seemann, told WHNT News 19 that many people feel a fear of missing out when it comes to the lottery, and it becomes a social phenomenon when the jackpot is high. "Especially in Alabama where there is no lottery," he said, and where traveling to get tickets has become more of a group activity.