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May 182013
 

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — As the countdown ticks on to Saturday night’s record Powerball drawing, the jackpot has swollen to over $600 million, largely due to California’s participation in the game, lottery officials said.

In the one month since California joined the list of 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands in playing, Powerball fever has swept across the Golden State.

California, the country’s most populous state, has skyrocketed to the top three states in terms of ticket sales, alongside Florida and New York, according to lottery officials.

“Once California joined the Powerball family, we helped change the dynamics to this game because of the mere size of the state and the number of players that we have,” a California lottery spokesperson told ABC News.

The size of the jackpot has created a frenzy that has also driven ticket sales, according to lottery officials. The previous record for a Powerball jackpot was $587.5 million on Nov. 28, 2012.

Tickets sold at a rate of 600,000 per hour in New York on Friday, New York lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman told ABC News.

It’s expected that tickets will continue to sell at a rapid rate until the 10 p.m. ET cut-off time Saturday night. The winning numbers will be drawn at 10:50 p.m. ET, perhaps minting a few new millionaires.

However, if no one matches all five numbers plus the Powerball, the jackpot will continue to balloon.

Kelly Cripe, media director for the Texas Lottery, which is one of the states in the Powerball lottery, said the next drawing would be May 22 and estimated the pot would be at least an astonishing $925 million. The frenzy of such a massive jackpot would likely push it even closer to $1 billion.

The odds of winning the grand prize are one in 175,223,510, according to the Powerball website.

While Saturday’s jackpot is a Powerball record, it’s not the biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. That honor belongs to the Mega Millions, which paid out a record $656 million on March 30, 2012.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 282012
 

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — 5-23-16-22-29-Powerball 6: Those are the winning numbers for a $579 million Powerball jackpot — the biggest in history.

After a feverish day that saw hopeful players buying tickets at the rate of 131,000 every minute, lottery officials in Orlando, Fla., drew the winning sequence shortly after 11p.m.

The results likely will be announced sometime after 2 a.m. Thursday morning.

Identifying the winner, however, could take days — if there is a winner.

A prior drawing last Saturday night produced no winner. That fact, plus the doubling in price of a Powerball ticket, accounted for the unprecedented richness of the pot.

“Back in January, we moved Powerball from being a $1 game to $2,” said Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman at the game’s headquarters in Iowa. “We thought at the time that this would mean bigger and faster-growing jackpots.”

That proved true. The total, she said, began taking “huge jumps — another $100 million since Saturday.” It then jumped another $50 million.

The biggest Powerball pot on record until now — $365 million — was won in 2006 by eight Lincoln, Neb., co-workers.

As the latest pot swelled, lottery officials said they began getting phone calls from all around the world.

“When it gets this big,” said Neubauer, “we get inquiries from Canada and Europe from people wanting to know if they can buy a ticket. They ask if they can FedEx us the money.”

The answer she has to give them, she said, is: “Sorry, no. You have to buy a ticket in a member state from a licensed retail location.”

About 80 percent of players don’t choose their own Powerball number, opting instead for a computer-generated one.

Asked if there’s anything a player can do to improve his or her odds of winning, Neubauer said there isn’t — apart from buying a ticket, of course.

Lottery officials put the odds of winning the $550 Powerball pot at one in 175 million, meaning you’d have been 25 times more likely to win an Academy Award.

Skip Garibaldi, a professor of mathematics at Emory University in Atlanta, provided additional perspective: You are three times more likely to die from a falling coconut, he said; seven times more likely to die from fireworks, “and way more likely to die from flesh-eating bacteria” (115 fatalities a year) than you are to win the Powerball lottery.

Segueing, then, from death to life, Garibaldi noted that even the best physicians, equipped with the most up-to-date equipment, can’t predict the timing of a child’s birth with much accuracy.

“But let’s suppose,” he said, “that your doctor managed to predict the day, the hour, the minute and the second your baby would be born.”

The doctor’s uncanny prediction would be “at least 100 times” more likely than your winning.

Even though he knows the odds all too well, Garibaldi said he usually plays the lottery.

“When it gets this big, I’ll buy a couple of tickets,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting. You get this feeling of anticipation. You get to think about the fantasy.”

So, did he buy two tickets this time?

“I couldn’t,” he told ABC News. “I’m in California” — one of eight states that doesn’t offer Powerball.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Nov 282012
 

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The allure of the record $500 million Powerball jackpot has led to long lines across the nation at local mini-marts and gas stations, with Americans hoping their champagne and caviar dreams become a reality when the numbers are drawn Wednesday night.

The jackpot was boosted on Tuesday from $425 million to the now historic $500 million sum, which is expected to get sweeter as millions of Americans rush to the store for their last chance to purchase a ticket and become a multi-millionaire overnight.

Powerball officials tell ABC News they expect to sell more than 105,000 tickets every minute before the drawing.  When the dust settles, more than 189 million tickets would have been sold for the half a billion-dollar jackpot.  That’s more than double the number sold for Saturday’s $325 million jackpot that nobody won.

ABC News was allowed access to the Powerball studios in Tallahassee, Fla., where the 11 p.m. ET drawing will take place.  The closely guarded machines and balls are locked in a vault before the numbers are drawn and only a select few are allowed inside the room during the actual broadcast.

Anyone who enters or leaves the vault is documented and workers who handle the lottery balls wear gloves, worried that human touch might change what numbers are randomly drawn.

Cameras are located in every nook and cranny of the Powerball studio, spying on workers as they ready the machines for the big moment.  Lottery officials in several states will be watching those feeds in real time to monitor the proceedings.

Powerball tickets for Wednesday night’s jackpot are not offered in eight states.  But that has not stopped many Californians and Nevadans who have flocked to Arizona to get in on the action.

“I’d say the line has to be like three, three and a half hours,” one person told ABC News while waiting online to purchase tickets on Tuesday.

Still, the long lines have not deterred those who hope to dramatically change their lifestyle and make their wildest dreams become a reality.

“I’m going to the Bahamas and enjoying myself on an island,” said one Powerball hopeful.

Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, said the chance of getting a winner Wednesday night is approaching 60 percent.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6 — that’s 16 consecutive drawings without a winner.  It’s the second-highest jackpot in U.S. lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.

Lottery officials put the odds of winning Wednesday’s Powerball pot at one in 175 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 192012
 

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News(BOSTON) — A 22-year-old man from Hyannis, Mass., had been down in the dumps since his girlfriend dumped him, but winning a $30.5 million Mega Millions jackpot is certainly perking up his spirits.

Sandeep Singh showed up at state lottery headquarters in Braintree Wednesday with his mother, sister and niece to claim his prize, which after taxes works out to be around $23 million, reports the Boston Globe.

At a lottery press conference, the lucky winner, who has worked two jobs to try to support his family ever since his father died, said of his love life, “I was heartbroken at first, but now I’m getting over it.”

With some of the money, Singh says he’ll pay off his mother’s house and look into getting a degree from the University of Massachusetts — which he previously couldn’t afford.  He split a $61 million prize with another winner from Fresno, California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 052012
 

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Mary and Brian Lohse of Bondurant, Iowa, walked into the Iowa Lottery headquarters on Thursday as a medical technician and attorney, respectively, and parents to three children.  They exited the headquarters in a stretch limousine after claiming their prize as sole winners of a $202.1 million Powerball jackpot.

Mary Lohse, 42, who bought the winning Powerball ticket last week at a local Casey’s General Store where she stopped for gas, didn’t think she had won the grand prize.

“I have the last three numbers and I was like, ‘Well, crap, I think I won at least 100 bucks,” she said at a news conference Thursday.

Once she saw all the numbers and believed it herself, she had an even harder time convincing her husband, who was out of town for work.

He told her to “go see our attorney,” if she was telling the truth.  When Mary sent him a text message asking for directions to their attorney’s office, he knew their lives had changed.

“I figured perhaps she wasn’t pulling my leg,” Brian Lohse, 43, said.

The couple, as sole winners, chose a one-time payment that reduced the gross prize to $129.8 million.  After taxes, the couple — parents to kids ages 15, 11 and 8 — collected a check for $90.9 million.

“We’ve certainly been blessed beyond what we ever thought we would be,” said Brian Lohse, who, in addition to his position as an attorney at a Des Moines insurance company, also serves on the Bondurant City Council.

Both Brian and Mary, who works as a certified medical assistant at the pediatric clinic of a medical center in Des Moines, have taken a leave of absence from their jobs.

They told reporters Thursday that they plan to pay off their student loans, build a new house and buy new cars — a first for Mary.  Her husband has already splurged on new shoes, the Des Moines Register reported.

They also plan to give some of their winnings to charity, establish their own foundation and donate to their local church and schools.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio