SULLIVAN - Go ahead and dream. As if a few hundred million isn't enough, more than 130,000 tickets per minute are going into the hands of dreamers as tonight's Powerball jackpot is expected to reach $550 million and beyond. It won by a single pick, it will be the largest lottery win in American history, eclipsing a $656 million ticket split three ways last March.
Tonight's Powerball has rolled over 16 times without a winner, creating a buzz that is getting the most devout non-players into the fever. Lottery officials say that there's a 75 percent chance a winner(s) will be picked tonight - even more reason to jump into the $550 million party.
While most local lottery retailers aren't seeing a rush during Wednesday afternoon, lottery officials say that ticket sales zoom as the 9:59 p.m. drawing approaches. However, small towns don't see the crush witnessed in larger cities because many lottery customers buy on a regular basis and the sheer number of lottery sales outlets versus players lessens the long lines. But still, a lot of people are getting into the game - at least for tonight.
"I seldom play, but this is too crazy," said a woman named Helen, pumping gas Wednesday afternoon at the Bourbon On-The-Run station. Helen said she would plunk down $10 - enough for five chances at never having to work again. "I'm on my way to Illinois, but I'll get some tickets now and dream about the money while I drive." Dreaming big is what it's all about.
An over-the-road truck driver buying a jacket at the Rio Grande store in Leasburg said he doesn't know what he will do with his winnings. "I've been living on $40,000 a year and I'm 60 now - what am I going to do with $500 million?"
The answer iis simple: Whatever you want.
(The cash payout for tonight's lottery is estimated at $360.2 million)