Powerball jackpot climbs to $550M, stokes lottery fever

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by Jason Volentine and Catherine Holland

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonvolentine

azfamily.com

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 6:55 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 5:03 AM

PHOENIX -- The Powerball jackpot sits at a record $550 million, jumping for the second time in two days. That has people around The Valley dreaming big about what they would do with a half-billion dollars.

The jackpot was boosted to $500 million on Tuesday and raised again Wednesday morning to $550 million.

A winner taking the cash option would get $360.2 million before taxes.

For many, a Powerball ticket is a $2 dream of all the toys that an instant fortune would buy.

“I’m going to buy a house for everybody in my family, buy silver and gold and buy everybody cars,” said one woman who stopped into a Phoenix Shell station to pick up a single ticket.

But the chances of winning the jackpot are just 1 in 175 million. A person has better odds of becoming president, dating a super model and dying from a snake bite -- combined!

While the now $550 million jackpot is a Powerball record, it’s actually the second biggest lottery prize in U.S. history. 

Three different people hit the winning numbers for the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot in March.  The Powerball’s previous all-time jackpot was $365 million, won by eight coworkers at a Nebraska meat packing plant.

With sales surging, Powerball officials say it's possible the jackpot could get another boost before the balls are drawn.

They also they now believe there is a 75 percent chance that the winning combination of numbers will be drawn Wednesday night.

In order to win the whole enchilada, you need to match all six numbers -- five on white balls plus the red Powerball. It's not as easy as it might sound. According to the Arizona Lottery website, odds of nailing it are 1 in 175,223,510.

The good news is there are eight other winning combinations with prizes starting at $4 -- doubling an investment in a single ticket -- and going up to $1 million. Your odds of winning something -- anything -- are about 1 in nearly 32.

There are three ways to play the game.

1. You can let the computer choose all of your numbers. (While quite common, a seven-time grand-prize winner from Florida says that's a really bad idea.)

2. You can choose all of your own numbers by whatever method you like.

3. You can choose either just the white balls or just the Powerball and let the computer choose the rest.

According to the Arizona Lottery, the 10 most-drawn white balls are 56, 59, 1, 7, 14, 29, 44, 5, 8 and 20. The most-drawn red ball is 33. The five least-drawn balls are 2, 25, 40, 12 and 21. The least-drawn red ball is 9.

If you're going to buy a ticket to get in the action, you have until 7:59 p.m. to do it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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