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This story first appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Even Hollywood’s top earners got caught up in Powerball fever. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht says he was walking by a New York convenience store and couldn’t resist a chance at the $1.6 billion jackpot. “I’ve actually never played Powerball before,” he says. “It’s a shameful thing to admit. But as I was looking at the lines, I thought, ‘This looks like too much fun to not be a part of.’ If I wasn’t in New York, I probably wouldn’t have done it. When I told my mother I was going to buy tickets, she immediately grabbed her coat and bought one herself.”
Says Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy of the draw that occurred Jan. 13, the day before Oscar nominations were announced: “I bought just one ticket. I thought, ‘I’ll take my chances. It’s $2, right?’ But I didn’t get a single number right. It doesn’t matter — [that] morning I felt like I won the Powerball anyway.” And according to sources, Jeffrey Katzenberg rallied his DreamWorks Animation colleagues to purchase tickets for a group buy-in with the stipulation that if they won, half the winnings would be split and the other half would go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, an organization he has long supported. Meanwhile, a source at 26th Street Union Service Station, located next to the Brentwood Country Mart, says Ben Affleck and Matt Damon purchased tickets there (Affleck’s rep denied the claim).
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