The store that sits on Clever Road in Kennedy looks like any other 7-Eleven. But if you ask Najma Khan, she'll say its a lucky store.
On Sunday, a customer won $325,000 in the Cash 5 Pennsylvania Lottery. Last November, a lottery player won $100,000. And, she said, there have been other big wins in the nine years she and her husband have owned the store.
She taped the banner announcing the November win to her counter, and when customers come by the store -- to buy a cup of coffee or a bag of chips or a bar of candy -- many of them see the big check and tell Ms. Khan they'd like to try their luck at the lottery.
"'Oh, you had a big winner. I should play,'" is what they say, Ms. Khan said.
It's not just Ms. Khan's customers who are feeling lucky.
The 2011-12 fiscal year was the most successful year for sales and profits in the 41-year history of the Pennsylvania Lottery, the agency announced Monday.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Pennsylvania Lottery captured a total of $3.48 billion in sales, an 8.5 percent increase over the previous year's all-time sales record, according to a Lottery news release. Net revenue to the lottery fund was $1.06 billion, $100 million more than the previous year and 8.7 percent more than the previous profit record set in the 2005-06 fiscal year.
In Allegheny County alone, lottery sales in the last fiscal year were $382 million, said Lottery spokeswoman Allison Roberts. She credited the expansion of retail locations selling lottery tickets, the growth of multi-state games such as Powerball and Mega Millions, and the growth in sales of scratch-off tickets with helping the Lottery set the record.
A factor she did not mention, but which Ms. Khan did, was that the struggling economy -- and the possibility of financial relief winning the lottery represents -- could be motivating more people to play.
A steady stream of people purchased lottery tickets this morning at Ms. Khan's store, and Marlene Snyder was one of those customers "hoping that we win big."
Ms. Snyder, a bus driver from Brighton Heights, bought a $1 scratch-off ticket, hoping to get $50 a day for life.
Instead, her ticket bought her another chance. The second ticket got her nothing. Still, she said, it was worth the dollar to play.
"I try," she said. "I take a chance all the time."