Powerball jackpot fever as prize hits $500 million

8:37 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The record Powerball jackpot is now even bigger. They've boosted the jackpot for Wednesday's drawing to $500 million from the previously posted $425 million.

Huge ticket sales nationally are pushing the payout higher. A single winner choosing the cash payout will take home $327 million before taxes.

"Half a billion, have to think about it," said a woman buying her tickets at the Shell gas station at East 55th and St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon.

"Something fun, put some away, give some away. We'll see. Something huge, huge."

"I'd buy a share in the Cleveland Browns and you'd see my sitting up there with Jimmy Haslam," said another ticket buyer.  "I'd have about a $150 million investment.  I think the team's a winner and I want to be part of it."

Record jackpots encourage players who usually sit on the sidelines to play and group purchases from work pools increase.

The jackpot is the largest ever for the Powerball game and the second largest lottery jackpot of all time, eclipsed only by the $656 million Mega Millions record set in March.

Eight months after a trio of ticket buyers split a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot to set a world lottery record, Powerball is now offering a life-changing fortune of $500 million.

"I'd buy two islands, 200 houses, and rent them to you!" a player told WKYC.

Another, buying tickets at Audrey's Deli in Parma, a perennial winning ticket vendor, said, "I'm a responsible person.  I would quit working but I'd give them 2 weeks notice."

Chuck Strutt, executive director of Multi-State Lottery Association, predicts there's about a 60 percent chance there will be a winner Wednesday, especially if there's a flurry of last-minute ticket purchasers picking unique numbers. The jackpot already has defied long odds by rolling over 16 consecutive times without anyone hitting the big prize.

Strutt puts the odds at around 5 percent there will be no winner in the entire run, including Wednesday. As the drought increases, so too will the chances of it ending on the next draw, because ticket sales spike with a growing jackpot.

Tickets are currently $2 each. It's been said one has a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the Powerball. But that woefully understates the danger of lightning.

Jim Norfolk, a University of Akron mathematics professor who teaches a course on gambling, puts the odds of a lightning strike in a person's lifetime at 1 in 5,000. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot: 1 in 175 million.

The Associated Press

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