$550 million Powerball jackpot drives ticket frenzy

Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:25pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Want to quit that depressing job? Buy a bigger house? Or how about a whole tropical island of your own? Maybe start a foundation?

Dreams of vast riches from a record Powerball lottery jackpot of more than half-a-billion dollars prompted a frenzy of ticket-buying across the United States ahead of Wednesday's draw, and continued heavy sales were nudging the payout even higher.

Powerball has not had a winner for two months, and the pot has already grown by about $225 million following brisk ticket sales after no one won the top prize in Saturday's drawing. By early afternoon on Wednesday, the jackpot stood at $550 million.

The drawing takes place at 10:59 p.m. ET/0315 GMT, and ticket sales cease from one to two hours earlier, depending on the state.

In a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois, Joe Cooke, 29, fantasized that if he won he could quit his job fielding customer service calls for a financial institution, which he described as listening to "rich, mean people" complain all day.

And how exactly would he quit?

"I was thinking, maybe I should hire a marching band to help me," he said after buying $50 worth of Powerball tickets Wednesday morning. "Or maybe I'll just walk right into office and moon him."

The draw on Wednesday night would dish out more than $360.2 million if paid as a lump sum. Alternatively, the total of $550 million can be paid out in an annuity over three decades.

In the Idaho mountain town of Salmon, lottery vendors reported record numbers of people lining up on the last day to buy tickets.   Continued...

 
Customers buy tickets for the Powerball lottery in New York, November 28, 2012. Dreams of vast riches from a record Powerball lottery jackpot of more than half-a-billion dollars prompted a frenzy of ticket-buying across the United States ahead of Wednesday's draw, and continued heavy sales were nudging the payout even higher. REUTERS/Chip East