Powerball hits record $500M jackpot

Nov. 27, 2012 at 9:57 PM
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CHICAGO, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The chance to win a half-billion dollars in Wednesday's Powerball drawing despite astronomical odds was powerfully tempting to many Americans, sales showed.

The Oregon Lottery office in Salem said a woman in Oakland, Calif., called to say she had booked a flight to Portland just to get ticket because Powerball isn't available in her state, OregonLive.com reported. Another person called from Nevada for the same reason.

"I guess $500 million makes people nutty," lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann said Tuesday.

The news website said there were long lines at many convenience stores and other lottery outlets despite the prohibitive odds of 1-in-175,000,000 of hitting the exact six numbers needed to win the jackpot.

While Wednesday's jackpot is the largest prize in that game's history, it's a pittance compared to what U.S. lotteries make, officials said.

Despite an anemic U.S. economy, the 2011-12 fiscal year saw total state lottery ticket sales of $60.8 billion, Tribune newspapers reported Tuesday.

The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries said there was an 8.7 percent increase in lottery revenue from the previous fiscal year.

The association said 32 of the country's 44 state lotteries set sales highs that make Powerball's $500 million look small.

In Illinois, one of the 33 states participating in Powerball, tickets sales are reported up.

"Over the weekend it was insane," said clerk Denise Van Der Griend of Party Liquors in the south Chicago suburb of Steger. "We had lines longer for lottery tickets than we did at the [liquor sales] counter."

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